September 4, 2008

Club Owners Offer $800K to Fire Victims

The owners of a Rhode Island nightclub where 100 people died in a 2003 fire have agreed to pay more than $800,000 to settle numerous lawsuits against them.

The blaze erupted after the crew for the rock band Great White lit pyrotechnics which ignited the ceiling foam The Station nightclub in West Warwick used for soundproofing.

Owners Michael and Jeffrey Derderian each pleaded no contest to 100 counts of involuntary manslaughter in 2006.

They were accused of installing the highly flammable polyurethane foam, permitting too many people in the club, neglecting to provide proper exits and allowing the band to use fireworks indoors without the proper permits, the Providence Journal said.

Michael Derderian was sentenced to four years, but is to be released a year early in October 2009.

Jeffrey Derderian was sentenced to community service and satisfied the terms of his sentence last fall.

The brothers, who filed for bankruptcy in 2006, have agreed to pay the victims $813,218.82 through the club's liability insurance policy to settle the lawsuits brought against them in federal court, the newspaper said.

Great White offered to settle the lawsuits brought against it by victims and the families of the deceased for $1 million this week.

The total amount offered by the various defendants in the case comes to about $176 million.

All proposed settlements must be approved by all the victims or their survivors and by the judge presiding over the mass tort case, the Journal said.