August 19, 2008

Settlement Proposed in R.I. Nightclub Fire

Victims of a 2003 Rhode Island nightclub fire in West Warwick, R.I., would receive $20 million under settlements with the state and town announced yesterday.

The state and the town would each pay $10 million to settle the federal lawsuit. One hundred people died on the Feb. 20, 2003, when a rock band's pyrotechnic show set fire to the ceiling and walls at The Station concert site, reported the Providence Journal Tuesday. More than 200 others of the crowd of 458 people were injured.

The latest settlement brings the amount tentatively offered to settle all fire victims' claims to some $175 million. This includes $1 million from the rock band Great White and many millions more from corporations allegedly responsible for the highly flammable noise insulation foam that lined the walls of the club as well as sponsors of the Great White show, including the beer manufacturer Anheuser-Busch.

The victims have alleged that the Town of West Warwick allowed "a public nuisance and a fire hazard to exist ... for an unreasonable period of time" and failed to provide "sufficient security and fire protection for a function at which they knew or should have known large numbers of people would be in attendance."