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RI Nightclub Survivors Seek New Law


— December 14, 2003

Although three people have been charged with involuntary manslaughter over the deaths of 100 last February in the fire at Rhode Island’s The Station nightclub, many injured survivors are outraged to learn that the State’s laws do not allow criminal charges for gross negligence that causes injuries, as opposed to death:

Walter Castle Jr. was so outraged that he broke down when he learned Rhode Island law doesn’t allow for anyone to be criminally charged for the burns he suffered in a deadly nightclub fire almost a year ago.

“I actually started crying,” said Castle, whose throat and lungs were so severely burned he says he can no longer work factory jobs because he has trouble breathing.

The February 20 blaze that roared through The Station nightclub as sparks from a band’s pyrotechnic display set fire to foam used as soundproofing on the walls killed 100 people and injured Castle and about 200 others.

Involuntary manslaughter charges were filed Tuesday against club owners Jeffrey and Michael Derderian and the Great White band’s tour manager Dan Biechele for the 100 who died.

But Attorney General Patrick Lynch said he couldn’t pursue charges on behalf of the injured because there is no criminal statute in Rhode Island to prosecute people who cause injury as a result of criminal negligence.

Lynch said he plans to do something about it by proposing legislation to expand the law’s coverage to injuries. According to his office, about a dozen states have criminal negligence statutes for cases when injury is involved.

Laws allowing criminal charges for negligent injuries can be troublesome. Details here from the AP via CNN.com.


Although three people have been charged with involuntary manslaughter over the deaths of 100 last February in the fire at Rhode Island’s The Station nightclub, many injured survivors are outraged to learn that the State’s laws do not allow criminal charges for gross negligence that causes injuries, as opposed to death:

Walter Castle Jr. was so outraged that he broke down when he learned Rhode Island law doesn’t allow for anyone to be criminally charged for the burns he suffered in a deadly nightclub fire almost a year ago.

“I actually started crying,” said Castle, whose throat and lungs were so severely burned he says he can no longer work factory jobs because he has trouble breathing.

The February 20 blaze that roared through The Station nightclub as sparks from a band’s pyrotechnic display set fire to foam used as soundproofing on the walls killed 100 people and injured Castle and about 200 others.

Involuntary manslaughter charges were filed Tuesday against club owners Jeffrey and Michael Derderian and the Great White band’s tour manager Dan Biechele for the 100 who died.

But Attorney General Patrick Lynch said he couldn’t pursue charges on behalf of the injured because there is no criminal statute in Rhode Island to prosecute people who cause injury as a result of criminal negligence.

Lynch said he plans to do something about it by proposing legislation to expand the law’s coverage to injuries. According to his office, about a dozen states have criminal negligence statutes for cases when injury is involved.

Laws allowing criminal charges for negligent injuries can be troublesome. Details here from the AP via CNN.com.

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