Total Settlement for Chicago in County Building Fire Reaches $100 Million

April 30, 2008

The city says it will pay $50 million to settle lawsuits stemming from a 2003 fire at a downtown county administration building that killed six people.

A Chicago law firm says that brings to $100 million the amount the city, Cook County and seven other defendants have agreed to pay.

Chicago Law Department spokeswoman Jennifer Hoyle told Insurance Journal that the city will directly pay $15 million under its self-insurance program and the remaining $35 million will be covered by the following four private insurance companies: AIG, Lexington Insurance, Clarendon America Insurance Co. and Westchester Insurance.

Hoyle said that the settlement payout must first be approved by the Chicago City Council.

“There were actually 21 separate lawsuits filed against the city,” Hoyle said. “The consideration of the cost of going to trial on 21 separate cases was a factor in the agreement to a settlement.”

The combined $100 million settlement announced Monday, April 28 by Chicago attorney Robert Clifford also includes $9 million from the county. The county was one of six defendants who settled lawsuits over the fire last week.

The six workers died after they were trapped in smoke-filled stairways.
New accounts on ABC-TV and NBC-TV in Chicago said that the Chicago Fire Department would approach high rise fires differently based on what happened during this event.

The Chicago Fire Department’s spokesperson Larry Langford sent a written statement in response to a request from Insurance Journal’s request.

” The Chicago Fire Department will always work to improve its ability to respond and mitigate any emergency. We constantly improve and evolve our tactics and strategies based on real world experience and research. We continue to use that knowledge to create a safer environment for members of the public and our first responders be it a high rise building, institution, underground event or single family home.”

Associated Press contributed to this story.

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