Settlement In Station Case

Home Depot Inc. and a Connecticut insulation company have tentatively agreed to a $5 million settlement in lawsuits brought by survivors of a 2003 nightclub fire and relatives of the 100 people killed, a lawyer for the families said Wednesday.

Atlanta-based Home Depot and Polar Industries Inc. join a handful of defendants who have agreed to settle with more than 300 people who sued for the fire at The Station nightclub in West Warwick. About 90 defendants remain.

The agreement brings to $18.5 million the total amount of settlement money offered so far.

The fire began when pyrotechnics ignited by the rock band Great White set ablaze flammable soundproofing foam around the stage.

Polar Industries, based in Prospect, Conn., made insulation that the victims’ lawyers say was dangerous and defective. The material, called PolarGuard, was placed in the ceiling of the drummer’s alcove by a prior club owner, presumably for soundproofing purposes.

Home Depot, the world’s largest home improvement store chain, sold the material.

Lawyers for both companies declined to comment Wednesday. It had not yet been decided how the two would split payment of the settlement money, lawyers said.

A group of other defendants, including a pyrotechnic maker and vendor, an alarm company and the realty company that leased the club to owners Jeffrey and Michael Derderian, agreed to settle earlier this year for $13.5 million.

Mark Mandell, one of the lawyers for the families, announced the new settlements at a court hearing Wednesday while urging the appointment of a law school professor to oversee the distribution of settlement proceeds in the case.

U.S. District Judge Ronald Lagueux agreed to appoint Francis McGovern, a Duke University law school professor recommended by the lawyers for the victims’ families, to the role of special master.