The first civil lawsuits relating to the GREAT WHITE fatal gig fire has been filed on behalf of relatives of two victims lost in the tragedy.
Family members of Donald Roderiques, 46, and Tina Ayer, 33, have brought wrongful death actions against 14 defendants, including members of the band Great White, their tour manager, owners of Rhode Island’s Station nightclub, the town of West Warwick and its fire inspector, according to the complaint. Allegations of negligence, products liability, breach of warranties and violations of state law are cited. The lawsuits were filed yesterday (March 5) in Rhode Island Superior Court, MTV reports.
The plaintiffs are hoping for a jury trial, compensatory damages, punitive damages, and costs. Attorney Brian Cunha said he would seek at least $1 million for each of the families.
The fire that erupted at the Station club on February 20, while rockers Great White had just begun their performance, took the lives of 98 people and left more than 180 people injured. The fire started when a spark from the band’s pyrotechnic display ignited the soundproofing foam insulation that lined the walls of the club.
American Foam Corp, which manufactured and sold the foam insulation to the Station, is also named in the suit for allegedly failing to warn the club owners that the product they sold them was not flame-retardant.
Great White and their tour manager, Dan Biechele, are accused of negligence for using the pyrotechnics, while Station owners Michael and Jeffrey Derderian allegedly failed to obtain a license for the use of pyrotechnics, neglected to install fire-resistant soundproofing material, and didn’t maintain, inspect and manage emergency lighting and exit signs at the club. The suit also claims that Station manager Paul Vanner had warned the owners of the dangers inherent in using pyrotechnics at the club.
Great White contend they had been allowed to use the fiery effects in their stage show, while the owners maintain that the band used them without permission. An investigation by local, state and federal authorities is underway.
West Warwick and its fire inspector, Denis Larocque, are being accused of not indicating the presence of flammable soundproofing material during previous fire inspections. Larocque last inspected the club in December and cited the owners for a series of violations that were subsequently remedied.