April 19, 2009

Nightclub fire victims facing bankruptcy

At least 12 survivors of the deadly 2003 fire at The Station nightclub in West Warwick, R.I., have sought bankruptcy protection, records show.

The Providence (R.I.) Journal reported Sunday its review of bankruptcy court records in Rhode Island, Connecticut and Massachusetts found the dozen fire victims and their families have faced significant financial problems since the Feb. 20, 2003, blaze.

Bankruptcy protection, if granted, halts all forms of debt collection activities targeting an individual or family, including bill collectors' phone calls and letters.

The nightclub fire victims' financial struggles, which include foreclosed homes and repossessed cars, came as a $176 million settlement is still tied up in the judicial system.

The proposed U.S. District Court settlement comes from dozens of parties who agreed to settle litigation claims from fire victims and their families, the Journal said.

While awaiting the release of the settlement money, 222 victims and their survivors have only received about $2 million in Rhode Island Crime Victim Compensation Fund payments.

The Station fire, which took place during a Great White concert, claimed the lives of 100 people and left more than 200 additional people injured.