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Great White - Station Fire Court Case Update

By Newsferatu, Writer
Thursday, November 10, 2005 @ 8:35 AM


Lawyer Wants Court To Pursue A

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Jack Perry of The Providence Journal has issued the following report:

A lawyer for victims of The Station nightclub fire today asked a bankruptcy court trustee to ensure that the court pursues all potential assets of club owners Jeffrey and Michael Derderian.

Lawyer Max Wistow said the Derderians and their corporation, Derco LLC, could possibly collect payments through liability insurance or from other potentially culpable parties.

Wistow is part of a team of eight lawyers representing 165 people who were injured and the families of 87 people who died in the Feb. 20, 2003 fire, which killed 100 and injured another 200 at the West Warwick club. The fire started when sound-proofing foam was ignited by pyrotechnics lit at the beginning of a concert by the band Great White.

Wistow had an opportunity to question the Derderians and address Chapter 7 trustee Stacy Ferrara today during a preliminary hearing that lasted more than three hours.

The Derderians and Derco filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy protection on Sept. 23, asking the bankruptcy court to protect their personal property - houses, cars, furniture, retirement money - from potential claims by fire victims and their families and other creditors.

Ferrara spent much of the session reviewing papers filed by the Derderians and Derco, asking for clarification and documentation on some of the entries.

Creditors were also given the chance to ask questions. Wistow and another attorney representing victims were the only two to take the opportunity.

Wistow and his colleagues have already filed civil claims on their clients' behalf, but he argued that the Derderians and Derco could be in a better position to recover from other potentially culpable parties or insurance policies.

"We believe Derco has rights against these partners that need to be pursued," Wistow said.

For example, the Derderians could have claims against the alleged promoters or sponsors of the Great White concert, Wistow said, specifically mentioning Clear Channel Broadcasting, Anheuser-Busch and McLaughlin & Moran, a distributor of Anheuser-Busch products.

Wistow added that the court should explore any potential claims the Derderians would have against their landlords at the West Warwick club, Triton Realty. The Derderians owned the nightclub business, but rented the real estate from Triton. Wistow said foam was on the walls before the Derderians executed their lease with Triton in July 2000.

Wistow also complained that an insurance policy, with liability coverage of $1 million, was not listed as an asset in bankruptcy papers filed with the court.

He asked Jeffrey Derderian if he explored whether he had any rights against third parties to help cover all or part of claims in lawsuits. Derderian said he hadn't.

"Do you intend to do that?" Wistow asked.

"I'm not sure," Derderian answered.

The Derderians, who face criminal as well as civil charges, told Ferrara that much of their money has gone to pay attorneys since the fire.

The Derderians and Daniel M. Biechele, the former Great White tour manager who set off the pyrotechnics, each face 200 counts of involuntary manslaughter. They have pleaded not guilty.


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