Local News
Eyewitness Sports
Medical Coverage
Call For Action
More Details
What's On WPRI
What's On Fox
2 Minute Test Drive
Experts Online
Online Store
Chopper 12
Station Info

MARKETPLACE:  Auto | Jobs | People Search | Personals | Travel | Yellow Pages  December 22, 2004
Education | House & Home | Money | Pets | Recipes | Relationships | What's Next | More Topics...
Victims filing first federal lawsuit in Rhode Island nightclub fire
Email to a Friend Printer Friendly Version  

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) _ The state of Rhode Island and the state fire marshal are among defendants listed in the first federal lawsuit filed in connection with the nightclub fire that killed 99
people and injured nearly 200 others.
   The suit was filed Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Providence on behalf of two fire survivors and the wife of a man who died in the Feb. 20 blaze at The Station in West Warwick.
   Survivor Tammy Passa, 24, of Warwick, suffered severe burns and was permanently scarred in the fire. Walter Castle Jr., 29, of North Kingstown suffered severe inhalation injuries. Cheryl
Harris-Rossi of Pawtucket lost her husband, Joseph Rossi, 35, in the fire.
   The 61-page lawsuit does not specify the amount of damages it seeks, but attorney Ronald Resmini estimated Tuesday that it could reach more than $3 million.
   The lawsuit alleges the state and state Fire Marshal Irving J. Owens failed to adequately inspect the nightclub's property and to properly prepare local fire inspectors for their duties.
   Jeff Neal, a spokesman for Gov. Don Carcieri, said the state would contest the allegations.
   ``First and foremost, the governor does not believe that the state is responsible for The Station fire tragedy and we will contest this suit,'' Neal said. ``Secondly, it's important to
realize that this is part of a process. The way lawsuits work these days, in tragedies like this, is that lawyers for the unfortunate victims seek out the party with the deepest pockets.''
   Neal would not comment on specifics in the lawsuit.
   A phone message left with the fire marshal was not immediately returned.
   The lawsuit accused club owners Jeffrey and Michael Derderian of negligence for failing to obtain permits for pyrotechnic use and for failing to ensure exits and emergency lighting worked properly.
   The lawsuit claims the Derderians ``negligently and intentionally installed soundproofing material surrounding the stage at the former Station nightclub and failed to ensure that the
material installed was fire resistant, in violation of Rhode Island General Laws.''
   Officials have said sparks from the band Great White's pyrotechnic display ignited the foam, which rapidly spread the fire, engulfing the club within minutes.
   The foam, described by investigators as highly flammable, was not mentioned in inspection reports, according to town documents. State law bars such highly flammable material from being used as soundproofing in clubs and bars.
   Attorneys for the Derderians did not immediately return phone messages seeking comment.
   American Foam Corp., the company that sold the foam to the Derderians, is also named as a defendant in the lawsuit, along with members of Great White, the town of West Warwick, and beer company Anheuser-Busch Cos. Inc.
   The lawsuit claims Anheuser-Busch and its local beer
distributor, McLaughlin and Moran Inc., were sponsors of the Great White concert and may have contributed to the concert's capacity because they arranged for a batch of Budweiser beer brewed in Anheuser-Busch's New Hampshire brewery to be delivered to The Station so fans could have the ``freshest beer.''
   The use of alcohol also ``interfered with the ability of said patrons to react in such a manner as to exit the premises safely,''  Resmini wrote in the lawsuit.
   A spokeswoman for Anheuser-Busch did not immediately return a phone message seeking comment.
   Two other lawsuits have been filed in state court on behalf of three victims' families, and more are expected. A grand jury is also weighing whether criminal charges are warranted.
   Resmini said Tuesday it is now up to a federal judge to determine whether the nightclub fire lawsuits belong in the federal court system.

Copyright 2003 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Local News
Fishing accident survivor returns to port as search continues
Eyewitness News RSS Feeds
Try the very latest way to read Eyewitness News headlines. Never miss an important story!
Sediment Disposal Plan
Lynch Making a Trip to Israel
State offers financial help to military families
Teen charged after leaving cocaine in film canister
Prosecutors: Former speaker's partner rejected intended bribe
Lawmakers want public hearing on sale of hotel
Secretary of state wants to post heating oil prices online
Woman flees smoky Newport fire
National News  more» 
Mother charged with slicing off baby's arms had earlier tried to commit suicide
Fake 'Seinfeld' holiday shares space with nativity scene on Fla. public property
Three ordered to stand trial in allegedly staged shooting of soldier
US Iraq Opposition
Government modifies patdown procedures for female passengers
Appeals court upholds award for secondhand smoke for sickness
Governors, health-care industry ask Bush to not cut Medicaid
Radio station owner faces $220,000 indecency fine
CDC cites second-hand smoke risk at airports; wants outright bans
Pope defrocks priest who was shot by his alleged victim

Top 10 Honeymoon Spots
Looking for a sexy place to celebrate your love? Here are our ten favorite lovin' locales on planet earth.
Are You Suffering from Chronic Pain?
Learn more about treatment options and a free information kit.
Send questions and comments about this website to the .
All content © Copyright 2004 WorldNow, WPRI, WNAC and Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.
For more information on this site, please read our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service.