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Providence Journal Reports “Judge Approves Settlement For Station Fire Victims”

January 8, 2010 by  
Filed under Daily Music News, New England Music

Dee Snider Hosting The Station Benefit Concert: Photo by: Mary

As we approach the anniversay of  The Station Nightclub Fire  on February 20th, it seems that there are finally settlements on the way for those that were impacted by the tragic events.  (Including friends of ours and many people from our own little music community.)  The fire took the lives of 100 music fans and left more than 230 others injured and with lifelong injuries.  It’s hard to believe that the fire was seven years ago, in our hearts and heads it seemed like just yesterday.
Here’s the update on the settelments for the victims from The Providence Journal:

“The action taken by Senior U.S. District Court Judge Ronald R. Lagueux makes it likely now that the victims of the fourth-deadliest nightclub fire in U.S. history will get money from a $176-million settlement fund in a matter of months. But much remains to be done before payments are made.

Probate judges have to approve the settlements in the 100 cases of those who died in the fire and for the minors who stand to get over $10,000. Each of the plaintiffs has to sign a release, as do guardians for minors who are getting money.

Once those things are done, some defendants have 30 days to pay up; others have 90 days. The victims will get some of their money after the first settlements are paid and a second check when the rest of the money comes in.

Lagueux approved Citizens Bank — who noted that he once represented the financial institution before he became a judge — as the repository for the settlement money that is being paid by 65 defendants who have agreed to offer money to the victims in lieu of a trial. The judge also approved Citizens and Brockton, Mass., lawyer Paul A. Finn as co-trustees of a trust from which disbursements will be paid. Checks to victims will be paid to their attorneys, who will then distribute the money.

The judge praised Citizens for agreeing to hold the money without taking any fee in a fund that will be protected by FDIC insurance. “This is a win, win, win situation,” he said. He also lauded the lawyers involved in the historic mass-tort case for the hard work they have done in effectuating a settlement for 306 plaintiffs.

“I think this is a red-letter day for the Station fire case,” Lagueux said. Then, upon hearing no objection from anyone in the court, he said he would sign orders approving the settlements, the trust fund and the one-third contingency fees the plaintiffs’ lawyers will be making: $59 million of the $176 million that’s been offered to the victims.

“We’re on our way,” the judge said before leaving the bench. “This is a matter that will live ’til death do us part.”

In signing off on the settlements earmarked for each plaintiff, Lagueux approved a voluminous report prepared by a court-appointed special master, lawyer William A. Poore. Poore reviewed settlements proposed for each victim, apportioned by grid –– with the most going to those who suffered the worst burns. He pronounced the allocations fair, along with the attorneys’ fees. Lagueux agreed with his report.
Calling it a “red-letter day,” a federal judge Thursday approved settlements earmarked for more than 300 victims of the 2003 Station nightclub fire and the mechanism through which payments will be made. “

Godsmack’s Sully Erna Reaches Settlement With Accident Suit

January 4, 2010 by  
Filed under Daily Music News

Sully Erna - Photo by: Mary Ouellette

The Eagle-Tribune reports that “Sully Erna of the rock band Godsmack has reached a multimillion-dollar court settlement with the victim of a car accident he was involved in. 

Lindsay Taylor, 27, and her parents, Elaine and Jeffrey, sued Erna for the April 11, 2007, three-car crash on the ramp from Interstate 93 south to Route 213 east.

Taylor rode in the back seat of a Toyota Camry driven by Eric Sargent, which was hit by the 41-year-old rock star’s Hummer. Taylor suffered a severe traumatic brain injury, according to court documents.

Erna, a Lawrence native who now lives in Windham, drove a 2006 Hummer H3 owned by Godsmack Touring Inc., which was also named as a defendant. Erna was not hurt in the crash.

The Taylors’ lawyer, Andrew Abraham of Boston, said all parties have agreed to the settlement, but it hasn’t been approved by a judge yet.

petition for the settlement, signed by attorneys on all sides of the case, calls for the defendants and/or their insurers to pay an immediate cash payment of $3.3 million, broken down as follows:

$1.8 million for attorneys fees

$118,886 for legal expenses

$119,023 to Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center

$29,628 to the Massachusetts Department of Transitional Assistance

$2,505 to Northeast Rehabilitation Hospital

$1,126 to Radiology-HMFP at Beth Israel

$973 to the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary

$1 million to Lindsay Taylor

$172,263 to Jeffrey Taylor

$72,263 to Elaine Taylor

The settlement also calls for a series of monthly payments to Lindsay Taylor for decades to come. They include:

$4,637 per month, guaranteed for five years, beginning in February and increasing at 3 percent compounding annually.

$5,492 per month, guaranteed for 14 years, beginning in 2015 and increasing at 3 percent compounding annually.

$9,659 per month for life, guaranteed for 11 years, beginning in 2029 and increasing at 3 percent compounding annually.

The settlement also calls for Elaine Taylor to collect $710 per month for life, guaranteed for 20 years, beginning in 2017.

Payments guaranteed

“All such aforementioned guaranteed payments are guaranteed whether or not the payee survives the payment schedule,” says the joint petition for approval of the settlement, which was filed in federal court in Boston.

Abraham said he couldn’t comment about the settlement. Erna’s lawyer, Jay Lee of Lowell, couldn’t be reached for comment. Sargent’s lawyer, Lee Stephen MacPhee of Boston, also could not be reached.

Court documents say Lindsay Taylor spent 19 days at Beth Israel before she was transferred to Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital for a month. She went through several months of outpatient therapy when she returned home.

Lindsay Taylor alleged that she was left functionally deaf and suffered cognitive impairments in addition to “personality/behavioral changes,” court documents said.

“The defense conceded that Ms. Taylor suffered an initial severe traumatic brain injury but also alleged that she had made a very substantial recovery and that her recovery would be ongoing,” court documents said.

The settlement petition said the defense was expected to argue that Lindsay Taylor “had a low pre-morbid function.”

“Before the crash, she was unemployed, got up about 10 a.m. and then hung out with her boyfriend,” court documents said. “After the crash, the records contained very similar description of her activities. The defense was expected to argue that Ms. Taylor was able to pass a driving test and was driving regularly.”

The main disagreement in the case revolved around Lindsay Taylor’s future health care needs. The plaintiffs presented a life care plan by Dr. William Burke who estimated future costs of $8.9 million. The defense presented a life care plan by Dr. Jane Mattson, who provided values of $1 million or $1.4 million, court documents said.

”  For all the details you can read the full story here.