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Station Fire Victims May Not Get Payments For Months

By Newsferatu, Writer
Tuesday, July 28, 2009 @ 4:32 AM


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From the Providence Journal:

Lawyers for the victims of the Station nightclub fire had hoped that their clients would be getting their settlements this summer. But the payouts are still months away.

Now it looks like the victims will be lucky if they get their money by the end of the year.

Sixty five defendants have offered a total of $176 million to settle federal lawsuits brought by more than 300 injured victims and families who lost a loved one in the Feb. 20, 2003, fire in West Warwick — the fourth-deadliest nightclub fire in U.S. history. The legal proceedings spawned by the fire have been unprecedented in Rhode Island in terms of the numbers of plaintiffs, defendants and lawyer hours that have been spent on behalf of both the plaintiffs and defendants in working out settlement agreements.

The last of the settlements was offered 10 months ago. But to date, none of the money has been put in a fund for the victims. And there is still much left to be done before the payouts begin.

As of last week, the parties that have offered to pay the settlements had still not finally approved a proposed release form that each victim who receives money will be asked to sign — giving up all claims against the defendants.

And a court-appointed lawyer is still making his way through a slew of proposed settlements for the 181 minors who are slated to get payments — a mammoth task that, according to legal experts, will involve interviewing each of their guardians.

And before any money can be paid out, probate judges in each of the municipalities where the deceased victims resided — both in Rhode Island and elsewhere in the United States — will have to hold separate hearings and review the settlement agreements as part of the process of closing their estates.

Further delaying matters is a provision in a few of the settlement agreements that gives Anheuser-Busch, the beer manufacturer, and the polyurethane foam manufacturers that were targeted in the lawsuits up to 90 days to pay up after the court gives its final approval to the settlements.

Also, several of the fire victims have filed for bankruptcy so any money they will get from the settlements will first go to a court-appointed bankruptcy trustee who will pay off any non-dischargeable claims against them before distributing the rest to them.

The next status conference in the case is not scheduled until Aug. 20.

Read the morehere


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