A federal judge approved settlements earmarked for more than 300 victims of the RI 2003 Station nightclub fire and the mechanism through which payments will be made.
The action taken by U.S. District Court Judge Lagueux makes it likely now that the victims of the fourth-deadliest nightclub fire in U.S. history will get money from a $176-million settlement fund in a matter of months.
Probate judges have to approve the settlements in the 100 cases of those who died in the fire and for the minors who stand to get over $10,000. Each of the plaintiffs has to sign a release, as do guardians for minors who are getting money.
Once those things are done, some defendants have 30 days to pay up; others have 90 days. The victims will get some of their money after the first settlements are paid and a second check when the rest of the money comes in.
Lagueux approved Citizens Bank — who noted that he once represented the financial institution before he became a judge — as the repository for the settlement money that is being paid by 65 defendants who have agreed to offer money to the victims in lieu of a trial. The judge also approved Citizens and Brockton, Mass., lawyer Paul A. Finn as co-trustees of a trust from which disbursements will be paid. Checks to victims will be paid to their attorneys, who will then distribute the money.
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