Station Owners Held In Contempt

The owners of the Station nightclub were found in contempt by a Rhode Island Workers’ Compensation Court judge because they failed to provide evidence they cannot pay benefits to the families of four deceased employees.

Lawyers for Jeffrey and Michael Derderian – owners of the West Warwick nightclub that burned to the ground in 2003, killing 100 people – told Judge Bruce Q. Morin their clients could not afford the $180,000 in compensation. The owners did not purchase the required workers’ compensation insurance for their employees; otherwise, the families of the four victims would have received death benefits.

Derderian attorneys were ordered to provide financial records that proved their clients could not afford the $180k decision. The lawyers argued that providing the information could jeopardize the Derderians’ defense in the criminal case against the brothers.

Morin said the excuse was insufficient and ordered the Derderians in contempt, adding penalties of $23,800 plus $4,000 in legal fees.

Meanwhile, state Superior Court Judge Francis Darigan Jr. has ordered Derderian lawyers to stop interviewing grand jurors who indicted the brothers two years ago on 200 counts each of involuntary manslaughter.

Derderian attorneys have conducted interviews with several grand jurors without consulting the court, and wanted to resume interviews about jurors’ absences and missed testimony.

The activity was seen as a possible step toward getting the indictments thrown out, but Darigan said interviews would threaten the ability of future grand juries to deliberate in secret and without the fear they would be questioned about their discussions.

“Such a result will have a chilling effect on a grand jury system and will not be permitted by this court,” Darigan said.

The tour manager for Great White, which was onstage at The Station when the blaze started,, was also indicted on 200 counts for igniting pyrotechnics inside the small club.

All three have pleaded innocent.