In 2003 in West Warwick, Rhode Island, a rock band called Great White started their concert with some pyrotechnics that set fire to the soundproofing foam around the stage. One hundred people were killed in that fire and 200 were injured in the stampede to get out of the building.
Since 2003 there has been legal wrangling over who is liable and to what extent. There were several dozen people and companies sued, including the nightclub owners, the town of West Warwick, Anheuser-Busch, Clear Channel Broadcasting, and the manufacturer of the foam. None of them admitted any liability. About 300 people brought suit, some for wrongful death and others for personal injury.
Separate Criminal Charges
There were also separate criminal charges where the club owners were charged with 100 counts of involuntary manslaughter and pleaded no contest, agreeing that they had installed flammable soundproofing on the stage. The former tour manager for Great White, one Daniel Biechele, also pleaded guilty to igniting pryotechnics without a permit. He and one of the club owners were given jail terms although now they are released.
The defendants did not want to risk going to trial and agreed to settle. The Rhode Island judge has approved a $176 million settlement amount and a plan for distributing it among those who had been injured and the survivors of those who were killed.
There were several dozen children who lost parents in that fire or whose parents were severely injured, and they will be compensated. The amounts to each child will vary widely according to the age of the child at the time of the fire and whether the parent was injured or killed. Burn injuries are among the most severe a person can suffer and can cause permanent disability, disfigurement, and lifelong pain.
Premises liability is a large area of personal injury law and our attorneys are well-experienced in how to fight for appropriate and fair compensation for you. If you would like to schedule a free case evaluation and consultation, please contact our law office today.