R.I. Workers' Comp Court Fines Station Owners $1 Mil

A Rhode Island Workers' Compensation Court has ordered the state to hold the owners of the Station nightclub personally liable for a $1.06 million penalty, after their company failed to carry workers'

A Rhode Island Workers' Compensation Court has ordered the state to hold the owners of the Station nightclub personally liable for a $1.06 million penalty, after their company failed to carry workers' comp insurance for some three years.

The fines, issued yesterday (Aug. 18), are part of the ongoing fallout of the Station club fire on Feb. 20, 2003, that killed 100 people and injured another 200 during a performance by the band Great White. Four of those killed worked at the club.

Brothers Jeffrey and Michael Derderian, owners of the station under their company Derco LLC, can now have their personal assets accessed to pay the fines.

The Derderians had appealed the fine, which at $1,000 per day each day the Station went without coverage, is the largest ever levied by the state in a workers' comp case.

Judge John Rotondi rejected arguments by the Derderian's attorneys that the brothers should not be held personally liable for the penalty because Derco is a limited liability company. Jeff Pine, attorney for the Derderians, could not be immediately reached following the decision.

In his written decision, Rotondi says that the law "clearly and unambiguously outlines the legislative intent to hold all employers civilly and/or criminally liable for failing to purchase workers' compensation insurance."

Rhode Island state workers' comp law was amended after the fire to specifically address limited-liability coverage.

The Derderian's lawyers have now appealed the fine to the R.I. Supreme Court.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has also fined the Derderian brothers and the band Great White nearly $100,000 for workplace violations Aug. 20.
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