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MARKETPLACE:  Auto | Jobs | People Search | Personals | Travel | Yellow Pages  December 24, 2004
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Club Fire Tragedy
Attorney's representing club fire defendants want their clients unidentified
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 PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) _ Attorneys representing possible defendants in lawsuits stemming from a deadly nightclub fire said Friday their clients should be able to remain unidentified until
they are sued.
   The issue comes as a state judge considers guidelines for testing evidence collected from the site of the Feb. 20 fire that killed 100 people.
   Mark Mandell, an attorney for victims' families and survivors of the fire, said anyone who wants to test the 717 items being stored at a Cranston warehouse should have to identify themselves.
   ``Take the veil of secrecy off them,'' he said after a hearing Friday in Superior Court. ``It's not fair, it's not objective.''
   But an attorney representing unnamed product manufacturers and retailers, said his clients' anonymity does not compromise the testing.
   ``These are manufacturers of products that are safe and legal,'' he said. ``The cause of the tragedy was the illegal use of fireworks.''
   Mandell and his team wants their experts to examine the materials for clues as to why the fire at The Station spread so quickly.
   Burned-out drums, blackened billiard balls, fans, mangled wire, foam and adhesive materials are among the items stored at the warehouse.
   Mandell said he wants the companies named because manufacturers have special knowledge about their products and could manipulate testing to ensure their product is seen as safe.
   ``That wouldn't happen,'' said Ruggieri. ``We wouldn't even consider doing something like that.''
   Superior Court Judge Alice Gibney is considering a variety of guidelines that would govern testing of the evidence, including requiring advance notice if an examination of the evidence will be
done somewhere other than the warehouse where the material is being stored, and the cost of the testing to be paid by the parties conducting the testing.
   Attorneys said they agreed on most of the protocols.

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