News Segment


February 16, 2006

A number of new defendants were named in an amended civil lawsuit filed Wednesday by survivors and relatives of those killed in the Station nightclub fire in West Warwick, Rhode Island, nearly three years ago. The February 20, 2003, blaze – which started when onstage pyrotechnics set off during a Great White performance ignited soundproofing foam on the club’s walls – claimed the lives of 100 people and left 200 others injured.

According to The Associated Press, the revised suit names individual members of Great White, claiming bassist David Felice, drummer Eric Powers, guitarist Mark Kendall and lead singer Jack Russell helped arrange the pyrotechnics display but never sought the required permit. Russell was the sole member of the group to be included in the original suit, which was filed in July 2004. The updated complaint replaces the original lawsuit, and comes mere days before a three-year deadline for claims stemming from the Station tragedy.

The amended suit, which seeks unspecified monetary damages, restores the state of Rhode Island as a defendant (a federal judge dropped the state from the civil action last year), and introduced claims that the state is responsible for the “egregious negligence” of West Warwick’s fire inspector Denis Larocque, the AP reports. Plaintiffs’ lawyers allege that the fire inspector failed to cite the club for installing the flammable foam around the stage and as a buffer lining the walls.

West Warwick building official Stephen Murray has also been added to the suit’s list of defendants. He’s accused of failing to properly inspect the Station and enforce occupancy restrictions and exit requirements.

Aram DerManouelian, the president of American Foam, has been named in the revised complaint, accused of discouraging his employees from informing potential buyers about the hazards the foam might pose. Several companies that produce and sell some of the foam and insulation that was present inside the club at the time of the fire (including Home Depot) were named, along with insurance companies accused of failing to rigorously inspect the Station edifice for the flammable foam.

Nearly four dozen defendants were listed in the original filing, including the club’s owners, Jeffrey and Michael Derderian, Great White’s former tour manager, Daniel Biechele, and American Foam Corporation. The Derderians still face 200 counts of involuntary manslaughter, stemming from the fatal inferno. Late last month, Biechele, who’d been facing the same criminal charges, pleaded guilty to 100 counts of involuntary manslaughter as part of a deal that will see him serve no more than 10 years behind bars.

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