Nightclub Nightmare; Lawyers Already Working on Legal Cases in Tragedy - BOSTON HERALD - February 25, 2003

By: Greg Gatlin
BOSTON HERALD
February 25, 2003

A high-profile Chicago lawyer and a personal injury attorney from Providence are among the lawyers talking with victims and families of The Station nightclub fire about lawsuits.

Kenneth B Moll, a Chicago rainmakerwho’s taken on big tobacco, and litigated over Bridgestone/Firestone tires and Fen-phen diet drugs, said he’s working on behalf of about five victims of the West Warwick, R.I. fire.

I was shocked to find we’d received inquiries as early as last Friday,said Moll, who is also working to bring suit in the Chicago E2 nightclub stampede that killed 21 people earlier this month.

John Calvino, a Providence personal injury lawyer, said he expects to bring cases on behalf of some injured and killed in the fire. He said he’s received numerous telephone calls and had two people come to his offices yesterday.

Walter Castle Jr. of North Kingston is among those considering retaining Calvino. Castle said he was near the stage when the flames started, and escaped through an exit near the stage, but his lungs were burned as he was overtaken by smoke.

All I really want is my medical (expenses) and my mental anguish taken care of,said Castle, 29 who’s currently unemployed. I want to hold both parties liable for this,he said, referring to the club owners and the band.

Calvino said survivors and families may be entitled to millions and millionsof dollars, but the question is where that money would come from. Moll said his firm’s investigation found the club had a $1 million insurance policy.

Calvino said he didnt know details of any insurance policy that the clubs owners, Jeffrey and Michaael Derderian, may have had. He said most venues that size might have a policy worth between $1 million and $5 million.

Lawyers said they’ll look for evidence of negligence by club owners, the band, its management company, the building owners and others. I have a feeling the town of West Warwick is certainly going to come into it as a defendant,Calvino said.

Under Rhode Island law, a jury could decide percentages of liability for each responsible party. It could also collect most of the judgment from one party with deep pockets, if that party is deemed responsible for at least 1 percent of the damages, Calvino said.

Moll said he favors a class-action suit, while Calvino expects individual cases might be brought, even if they are later consolidated by a judge.