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Foam firms offer $30m to settle Station lawsuits

Email|Print|Single Page| Text size + By Eric Tucker
Associated Press / May 13, 2008

PROVIDENCE - Several foam manufacturers have agreed to pay $30 million to settle lawsuits brought by survivors and family members of those who died in the 2003 nightclub fire that killed 100 people, according to court papers filed yesterday.

The foam companies that agreed to settle include Leggett & Platt Inc., of Carthage, Mo.; Wm. T. Burnett & Co., of Baltimore; and several others.

More than $100 million has now been offered to victims of the Feb. 20, 2003, fire at The Station nightclub in West Warwick from various companies, including past settlements with Home Depot, Clear Channel Broadcasting, and a pyrotechnics manufacturer.

The settlements still need approval by the hundreds who have sued as well as the federal judge overseeing the case.

Investigators blame flammable, polyurethane foam on the walls and ceiling of the club for fueling the blaze, which swiftly engulfed the one-story building in flames and dense, toxic smoke. The fire began when a pyrotechnics display for the 1980s rock band Great White ignited foam placed around the stage for soundproofing.

It still is not clear exactly which of the companies sued had made the foam that was in the club. The foam was sold to club owners Jeffrey and Michael Derderian by Johnston-based American Foam Corp. American Foam, which has also been sued, bought its foam from a handful of manufacturers. Tests were being done to help pinpoint the manufacturers.

The victims' lawyers accuse the companies of failing to adequately test their foam before selling it and failing to educate users about the material's potential dangers.

The lawsuits allege that the foam was sold without any flame-retardant chemicals and produced "unreasonably dangerous toxic smoke and gases" once it was ignited.

The Derderians have said they did not know the foam was flammable, and the town fire inspector never cited the club for the foam.

Besides the 100 people killed, more than 200 others were injured.

Former Great White tour manager Daniel Biechele, who lighted the pyrotechnics, served 22 months in prison after pleading guilty to 100 counts of involuntary manslaughter. He was released in March.

The Derderians pleaded no contest to the same charges, and Michael Derderian is due to be released on parole next year from his four-year sentence. His brother was spared jail time.

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