Foam manufacturer settles for US$25 million over Station nightclub fire

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Saturday, June 14, 2008

Sealed Air Corporation, a packaging company based in Elmwood Park, New Jersey has agreed to settle legal action over the Station nightclub fire on Rhode Island in February 2003. The disaster killed 100 people with more than twice as many injured and this settlement is one of a series over the blaze.

The fire was triggered by pyrotechnics in use by hard rock band Great White who were performing at the West Warwick venue at the time. They ignited flammable soundproofing foam on the walls.

The latest settlement brings the total amount of settlements to $148.815 million, although all of these settlements are still tentative and subject to approval by families and a judge. Other companies that have already settled include Clear Channel Broadcasting, whose rock radio station was the show's promoter, Anheuser-Busch Inc., The Home Depot Inc., a pyrotechnics manufacturer and several other foam companies.

Others still defending in the case, which names dozens of groups and individuals, include Rhode Island state, the fire inspector that did not enforce regulations at the club, and American Foam Corporation, who sold more foam to the Derderian brothers.

The Derderians bought the club in 2000, whereas the foam allegedly manufactured by Sealed Air was installed in 1996. Sealed Air deny any wrongdoing, saying it was never proven that they indeed manufactured the foam and that the foam was being misused as soundproofing in any event.

Regardless of the origin of the foam, it was argued that it burned too easily and produced toxic fumes when it did.

The criminal case around the fire was resolved in 2006, with the Derderians and Great White tour manager Daniel Biechele - who ignited the pyrotechnics - charged with involuntary manslaughter. The Derderians pleaded no contest and Biechele pleaded guilty.

Biechele was released on parole and Michael Derderian is due for parole next year. His brother was sentenced only to probation and community service.

Sealed Air's insurance will pay the settlement.