Several foam manufacturers have agreed to pay $30 million to settle lawsuits brought by survivors and family members of those who died in the 2003 nightclub fire in Rhode Island that killed 100 people. Among the several foam companies that agreed to settle are Leggett & Platt Inc. (based in Carthage, Missouri), and Wm. T. Burnett & Co. (based in Baltimore). The companies have offered more than $100 million to victims of the February 20, 2003, fire at the Station nightclub in West Warwick. Previous settlements have come from Home Depot, Clear Channel Broadcasting and fireworks makers. The most recent settlements must be approved by the hundreds who have sued as well as the federal judge overseeing the case.
A Duke University law professor has been appointed to meet with survivors and victims’ relatives to calculate a formula for how much money each person would receive under the settlements, based on the injuries they suffered. Investigators blame flammable, egg-crate-style foam on the walls and ceiling of the club for fueling the fire, which was started when a pyrotechnics display for the rock band Great White ignited the soundproofing material. The foam was sold to the club owners by American Foam Corp., which bought foam from a handful of manufacturers.
The companies were accused of failing to adequately test their foam before distributing or selling it and failing to educate users about the material’s dangers. The lawsuits allege that the foam was sold without any flame-retardant chemicals and produced “unreasonably dangerous toxic smoke and gases” once it was ignited. Polyurethane foam is well-known throughout the industry as being flammable and not safe in places such as hotels and nightclubs. This fire was the fourth-deadliest nightclub blaze in U.S. history. Besides the 100 people killed, more than 200 others were injured.
Source: Associated Press
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