West Warwick, R.I., fire victims and family members have reached a tentative $30 million settlement agreement with a TV station and cameraman they claim impeded exit from The Station nightclub in 2003.
Brian Butler filmed video footage in the small club when it caught fire during a Great White performance. His footage is considered the most complete record of the early moments of the fire, revealing the rapid spread of the flame and the frantic rush for the exits.
Lawyers for victims accused Butler of impeding the crowd’s exit through the front door. He and his attorney have denied the claim. In an affidavit submitted last year, Butler said he left as soon as he noticed the flames and did not stop to videotape the patrons.
Butler attorney Chip Babcock said his client "had saved lives that night" when commenting on the case in 2004.
The settlement requires the approval of a judge handling the case and the plaintiffs.
"This has never been about the money," said Chris Fontaine, whose son died in the fire and whose daughter was injured. "No amount of money is ever going to bring back my son or remove the scars from my daughter."
The Boston Globe first reported the settlement, which also involves the station’s owner, LIN-TV, Saturday. A lawyer involved in the deal confirmed the settlement on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly about it.