Several defendants being sued by relatives of the 100 people killed in a 2003 Rhode Island nightclub fire have tentatively agreed to a $13.5 million settlement, one of the lawyers for the families told The Associated Press on Wednesday.
The settlements, if approved by a judge, would mark the first in what relatives’ lawyers hope will be several agreements with dozens of defendants in the lawsuits stemming from the Feb. 20, 2003, fire at the Station nightclub in West Warwick. In addition to the 100 people killed, more than 200 were injured. Eight of those who died lived or worked in Connecticut.
Roughly 300 fire survivors and victims’ relatives have sued in federal court over the fire, which began when pyrotechnics for the rock band Great White ignited flammable foam around the stage and the club’s walls. The foam quickly spread the blaze through the one-story roadhouse.
Among the companies that have tentatively agreed to settle are a manufacturer of soundproofing material, a vendor of the pyrotechnics that ignited the blaze, the realty company that leased the building to club owners Jeffrey and Michael Derderian and an alarm company, according to court papers.
John Barylick, an attorney for the families, said the settlement was dependent on the court appointing a special master to oversee the distribution of the money.
“There is certainly agreement among the parties to settle, but it’s dependent on clearing some legal hurdles,” Barylick said.
The lawyers are recommending that Francis McGovern, a law professor at Duke University, serve as special master. They say he has fulfilled similar duties more than 50 times, including in litigation over silicone breast implants and DDT toxic exposure.
McGovern did not immediately return a phone message seeing comment.
Lawyers for two defendants, pyrotechnic maker Lunatech Inc. and pyrotechnic vendor High Tech Special Effects Inc., also did not immediately return phone messages.
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