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MARKETPLACE:  Auto | Jobs | Personals | Yellow Pages  December 13, 2003
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Club Fire Tragedy
Three judge panel upholds Million dollar Fine against "The Station" owners
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(Providence-AP) -- A three-judge panel upholds a workers' compensation fine of more than one (m) million dollars against owners of The Station.

The 15-page decision was received by attorneys today. It will be entered into the court on October 30th, seven days after the panel made its ruling.

The state Department of Labor and Training fined Derco LLC, the company owned by Jeffrey and Michael Derderian, $1.07 million for not having the required insurance during the more than three years they operated the West Warwick club.

The fine was the maximum possible -- $1,000 for each day the club operated without workers' compensation insurance.

In July, Workers' Compensation Court Judge Bruce Morin upheld the fine and ruled the labor department could also assess it against the brothers personally.

The Derderians' attorneys appealed to the three-judge panel, arguing the fine was out of line with previous penalties imposed by the state. They also said the fine was excessive and would bankrupt the brothers.

The Station nightclub was destroyed by fire Feb. 20 when a rock band's pyrotechnics ignited highly flammable foam used around the club's stage as soundproofing.

Four of the Derderians' employees died in the blaze that killed 100 people and injured nearly 200 others.

If there had been workers' comp insurance, the families of the dead employees would have been eligible for $15,000 for burial and other expenses plus a portion of the deceased's lost wages. Injured employees could also have qualified for compensation, depending on the nature of their injuries and extent of disability.

The Derderians' lawyers have said their clients are being treated unfairly because of the high-profile nature of the tragedy. The state denies that.

In August, Morin refused to postpone collection of the penalty while the case was on appeal.

It's unclear how this ruling will affect collection of the fine.

Kathleen Hagerty, a lawyer for Michael Derderian, and Jeff Pine, who represents Jeffrey Derderian, said the brothers want any fine that is collected to go to the victims. An attorney for the

Department of Labor and Training has said that may happen, but Hagerty is not aware of any case in which the state has used a penalty in that way.

Hagerty said she will ask the Supreme Court to review the decision

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