Insurer and 2 Inspection Firms Dismissed from R.I. Nightclub Trial

November 13, 2005

A federal judge in Providence dismissed an insurance company and two other defendants from a civil lawsuit brought by survivors of a deadly 2003 Rhode Island nightclub fire and by relatives of those who died.

U.S. District Judge Ronald Lagueux agreed to drop Essex Insurance Company, Multi-State Inspections Inc. and High Caliber Inspections Inc. from the case.

Essex is an insurer that provided liability coverage for The Station nightclub in West Warwick. Multi-State and High-Caliber are identified in the complaint as insurance inspection services.

The Feb. 20, 2003, fire, which started when a rock band’s pyrotechnics ignited flammable foam used as soundproofing, killed 100 people and injured more than 200 others. Eight people who died either lived or worked in Connecticut.

The suit claimed that inspections of the nightclub were done negligently and failed to detect potential safety hazards, fire and building code violations and flammable material.

But Lagueux, in his ruling to dismiss the defendants, said Essex and the two inspection services had no obligation to the plaintiffs to inspect the club.

Club owners Jeffrey and Michael Derderian and Daniel Biechele, the former tour manager for Great White, the rock band on stage at the time of the fire, each face 200 counts of involuntary manslaughter. All three men have pleaded innocent.

Dozens of defendants, including the Derderians, have been sued in federal court over the fire.

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