Three Station Plaintiffs Dismissed

A federal judge dismissed three defendants from a civil lawsuit involving a nightclub fire that killed 100 people in West Warwick, R.I., in February 2003.

U.S. District Judge Ronald Lagueux dropped Essex Insurance Co. and two inspection firms – High Caliber Inspections and Multi-State Inspections – from the case, which has about 40 defendants.

Attorneys for the approximately 200 plaintiffs, which include victims injured in the fire and families of the deceased, claimed the insurance company and the inspectors should have done more to correct conditions in the club that led to the fire – particularly a flammable acoustic foam that sped the flames, according to The Providence Journal.

A tour manager for Great White launched pyro at the band’s February 20, 2003, show at The Station, igniting the foam on the back wall of the stage. The club burned to the ground, killing 100 people and injuring 200 more.

In the November 9th order, Lagueux said the three plaintiffs properly conducted inspections inside the club. He ruled that the purpose of the insurance inspections was to determine whether the club should be issued a policy, not to ensure public safety, according to the Journal. Lagueux also determined that the companies did not have an obligation to plaintiffs to inspect the club.

Aspects of the case are on hold while club owners Michael and Jeffrey Derderian pursue bankruptcy, the paper said. A Rhode Island grand jury has charged them each with 200 counts of manslaughter – two counts for each death.

The charges stem from the belief that the Derderians purchased the foam with the knowledge that it was flammable and, therefore, illegal. However, a fax from the foam salesman, Barry Warner, claims the American Foam Corp. had a policy of not warning customers about the potential dangers of the foam.

Attorneys for the brothers filed new court papers November 14th, arguing that charges against their clients be thrown out because prosecutors withheld that evidence from the grand jury.