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. “