Second Lawsuit Filed In GREAT WHITE Concert Tragedy

March 10, 2003

A second lawsuit was filed today in connection with the GREAT WHITE concert tragedy fire in Rhode Island — this one on behalf of a young girl who lost her 27-year-old mother in the blaze which took 99 lives, according to The Providence Journal.

The lawsuit, filed on behalf of Zoe Jean Kingsley, the 6-year-old daughter of fire victim Lisa Kelly, of Swansea, Mass., targets more entities — with potentially bigger pockets — than one brought last week on behalf of another fire victim.

The plaintiff in the lawsuit is Ronald Kingsley, of Tiverton, who is the father of Zoe Jean Kingsley. He is being represented by lawyer Stefanie DiMaio Larivee, of Providence. The suit was filed in Superior Court, Providence.

Named as defendants in the newest suit are the owners of The Station, Jeffrey and Michael Derderian, and the corporation under which they operated the nightclub, the four surviving members of GREAT WHITE, the band that set off the pyrotechnics that started the fire, Daniel Biechele, the tour manager for GREAT WHITE, the band's manager, Manic Music Management, of Encino Calif., that company's agent, Paul Woolnough, and the band's record company, Knight Records.

Also named as defendants are American Foam Corporation, of Johnston, the company that sold the highly flammable soundproofing foam that lined the walls of The Station, Luna Tech, Inc., of Owens Cross Rocks, Ala., which the lawsuit says was the manufacturer of the pyrotechnics used by GREAT WHITE the night of The Station fire, Luna Tech's parent corporation, Luna Tech Pyrotechnik GmbH, of Ascheffel, Germany, radio station WHJY-FM, a sponsor of the GREAT WHITE rock concert and its owner, Clear Channel Communications, of New York, and Anheuser-Busch and McLaughlin & Moran, which the lawsuit says also sponsored the Feb. 20 show.

Anheuser-Busch and McLaughlin & Moran, the lawsuit says, arranged for a batch of Budweiser beer that was brewed in Anheuser-Busch's New Hampshire brewery to be delivered to The Station by McLaughlin & Moran for sale at the GREAT WHITE show "so that fans at The Station that night could have the freshest beer that they were ever likely to have. This fact was promoted repeatedly by 'Doctor Metal' [the WHJY DJ Michael Gonsalves who died in the fire] to the crowd at various times during the evening," the lawsuit says.

McLauglin & Moran is the state's largest beer distributor, and the sole distributor of Anheuser-Busch products.

The lawsuit contends that after the fire broke out, Kelly tried to make her way to the door of The Station but in the panic that ensued, was knocked down and buried under a pile of people and suffocated.

The lawsuit alleges that the Derderians' negligence caused Kelly's death.

The lawsuit says the brothers failed to "manage, control, supervise and/or inspect" The Station to make sure it was safe, that they negligently installed flammable soundporrfing material around the state, failed to obtain the necessary permits prior to the use of pytrotechnics there, and that they allowed GREAT WHITE to use pytrotechnics without permits to do so. The lawsuit also alleges that the Derderians failed to ensure that emergency lighting and exit signs were operable in case of a fire or power outage.

Kingsley is asking for a jury trial on the matter and is seeking an unspecified amount of compensatory and punitive damages for Kelly's wrongful death and pain and suffering and for loss of consortium suffered by his daughter.

Stephen K. Lambright, a lawyer for St.Louis-based Anheuser-Busch, said in a statement McLaughlin and Moran is an independent business that has the right to use Anheuser-Busch's beer brand name in its advertising.

"Anheuser-Busch did not advertise, sponsor or promote the band that appeared at The Station that night and should not have been named in this lawsuit," Lambright said.

David Zlotnick, associate professor of law at Roger Williams University, said the inclusion of Anheuser-Busch and Clear Channel Communications indicated the plaintiffs were going for deep pockets.

"The nightclub owners, no matter how much insurance they had, it's not going to be enough to cover all the claims," he said.

A spokeswoman for Clear Channel Communications told The Associated Press she would review the lawsuit, then issue a statement.

Last Tuesday, a suit was filed in the same court by family members of two other fire victims, Tina Marie Ayer, 33, of Warwick, and Donald Roderiques, 46, of Mashpee, Mass.

In preparation for multiple suits, Superior Court Judge Alice B. Gibney has been named to manage and supervise all civil lawsuits from The Station fire, regardless of where the suits are filed in Rhode Island.

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