Re the RI nightclub fire what happens if Great White is found guilty of negligence?

I assume the band is incorporated. I suppose my main question is who is going to jail? I think it’s a good bet the band will be bankrupt after the law suits are finished

1: Is the band manager criminally negligent if he didn’t get the night club or the Fire Inspector’s permission to use the pyrotechnics?

2: Is the band’s roadie/effects engineer who set them up criminally liable if the manager told him to go ahead and do it?

3: Is the nightclub management at fault for not monitoring what the band was putting on stage more closely even if the band did not get specific permission to place the fireworks?

4:How does the justice system parse out who is at fault and ciminally liable in situations like these, where lines of authority may be indistinct and everyone is pointing the finger at someone else?

I would assume the band itself is not to be blamed, but the management. It sounds to me that the manager told the band one thing, and the facilities another. Ultimately, I think it’s his/her neck in the noose.

Others screwed up in a colossal way, most certainly, but now that reports have come out from other facilities that the use of pyrotechnics was not requested or approved at their sites–and used without their permission–it sounds like a BIG Fuck Up on the part of the band’s management.

Either way, I the band has a heavy toll on their hands. I would think the remaining member will need immediate counseling or other suicide-prevention assistance.

This tragedy has been bothering me quite a bit, since I frequent these small out-of-the-way deathtraps on a regular basis. I glad to say I know where the exits are, but its a reality check just the same.

Slight hijack…

On there is a first person account from someone who was at the club that night. It’s very detailed and somewhat graphic, but is the best account of what happened in the moments following the start of the fire that I have seen.

Negligence is a tort (a civil wrong), so Great White is looking at some massive lawsuits coming down the pike. IANAL, but using pyrotechnics in a small crowded bar with a low ceiling and flammable soundproofing sounds like negligence (extremely reckless behavior) to me.:frowning:

Can any Dopers who know a bit about pyrotechnics speak to what these devices might have looked like? I heard in passing that they were just little metal tubes and not very big, and that unless you knew what you were looking for they got “lost” among the wires and other equipment onstage. How long would they take to set up?

And the building was also made of wood. Aside from the building being made of brick, this is horribly similar to the Cocoant Grove fire in Boston in the forties, where the decorations also caught fire. 491 people died.

I cannot imagine a band or a bar like this carrying enough liability insurance to cover something like *this *.

I know zero about insurance. I don’t see how anyone (survivors, family) could actually get any financial recompense for loss of life.

Unless they find some legal loop hole and get it around to blaming the fire department for *failure to *whatever. Even though the reports we are hearing right now, are that the bar was Inspected in December 2002 and quickly fixed the minor things that were not up to code.

As for Great White having any money, if they had any money, would they still be touring?

( Please, withhold the Rolling Stones Jokes …)

The Smoking Gun has the band’s rider from two separate promoters who booked shows by the group during the past month, and it makes no reference to pyrotechnics. They also got word from another promoter that said they used pyrotechnics without permission in a New Jersey club.

I was looking through that smoking gun stuff, and I’ll tell you what…

If that’s what kind of treatment has-been rock stars get, I can’t even begin to imagine what really popular rock stars ask for. That thing reads like a crazy list of demands.

Along those same lines, I think - don’t nightclubs and other venues employ someone to supervise, or at least assist with, setting up the equipment? Or does management throw the roadies a set of keys and hide in the back room until the show’s over?

What’s so ridiculous about a hotel room, some OJ and water, a lunch for the crew, and 10 subs?

I also think that the band’s management is at fault here. There are 4 club owners saying the same thing happened at their clubs, the band used pyrotechnics without permission. There are also club owners (the article didn’t state how many) coming forward to say that they did ask permission and complied when permission was not granted. The band says they had permission, the club owner says they didn’t. It would’ve been a verbal agreement so it’s just one word against the other. I would think in a case like that, it’s going to have to fall back on the rider for legal purposes. There was nothing in the contract about pyrotechnics, therefore the band/management is most likely to be held responsible.

If the management is found to be the responsible party, the money is still going to come from the band. It’s a business. It would be like suing a company because of the actions of one of their employees. When it comes down to it, I believe the statements of both sides. Someone in the middle screwed up, IMO. I find it highly suspect that their tour manager (Paul Biechele, I believe is the name…) has been unavailable for comment this whole time.

Everyone who is in any way involved in this tragedy is going to be sued…the club, the band, the fire department and it’s inspectors…literally everyone…and the deeper your pockets, the better chance you have of being included.

Everyone is going to share a contributory part of any damage award. Because so many other clubs are saying that the band used pyrotechnics without permission, the band is screwed. The club will not escape unscathed however, as they will be deemed to have been negligent in not knowing what was going on.

Fire inspectors will be accused (and maybe convicted) of fraud, because after all, how could they allow the place to pass inspection with massive amounts of flammable material on/in its walls and ceilings.

This will clearly end up being a 3-ring court circus. Unfortunately, it is the municipality that will end up paying the majority of whatever awards are granted, regardless of the percentage of liability they incur, simply because they have the deepest pockets.

I reaad through the while document, and there’s nothing at all unreasonable about it. If these guys are constantly on tour (really I have no idea how busy they are, since I never heard of them before this), then they need to be sure they eat decent meals.

Really! One should go through TSG and read some of the riders from more popular bands/artists. Some of them are outrageous!

As far as liability, now there are 2 other bands coming forward saying that they’ve used pyrotechnics at The Station with full permission from the owners. One band has played there numerous times as sort of a house band, and they claim they’ve set off pyrotechnics at every performance but one. So now - who knows? 4 other clubs claim the band has set off pyrotechnics without their permission. Yet others claim that the band (or management, whichever) asked for permission, were turned down, and complied. Now this evidence that pyrotechnics have been used before in The Station. Sounds like everyone has a little bit of blood on their hands.


Some of y’all are confusing possible criminal liability (ie, being sent to the pokey) with civil liability (where money damages are awarded). There’s little doubt that the band, club, and anyone who ever did business with them will be subject to numerous lawsuits from the survivors as well as the deceased victims’ families. Given that there is no question as to the catastrophic loss incurred, and that the loss was due to malfeasance either by the club proprietor, the band, or both, there is no question in my mind that there is attendant civil liability and someone’s gonna have to pay enormous money damages.

The issue of criminal liability, however, is much more muddled. As a previous poster cited, the club has hosted acts in the past which used pyrotechnics which may have been even larger and more likely to ignite a combustible source than the ones which GW used, to no (apparent) ill effect. They were, apparently, in full compliance with Rhode Island’s building codes, had a valid operating permit and did not exceed the building’s capacity nor block any exits.

GW, according to the interview I saw of Jack Russell, uses supposedly low-temperature pyrotechnics (he compared them to sparklers) and also supposedly obtained oral permission from the club’s management to use them.

Whether true or not, the essential point is this - did either the club’s actions or Great White’s actions (collectively or individually) rise to the level of criminality? Did they intentionally and deliberately place people’s lives at risk? Were they wreckless in any way? Did they exhibit blatant disregard for the safety of the patrons of the club? If not, it’s hard to argue that their conduct should result in criminal charges.

Why is it so difficult for people to accept that this is an ACCIDENT? Tragic, awful, and horrible for all involved - but are the club proprietor or the band to be held criminally responsible for what was, by all accounts, a freak and entirely unintended event? I don’t think so!

If a meteor or a chunk of the Space Shuttle falls out of the sky and smashes the nightclub to bits, I call that an accident.

If a rock band sets off fireworks that immediately catch the place on fire and burn it to the ground, killing 96 people in the process, I call that gross negligence at best, manslaughter at worst.

It’s a moot point, anyway. With a legal system that awards $8 million to clumsy old ladies who spill coffee all over themselves, and allows burglars to successfully sue the people who own the houses they break into, there is no way in hell this case is going away without some people being forced to pay up HUGE cash.

The “legal system” did not award a clumsy old lady $8,000,000. A jury did. It was overturned by the “legal system”, and final financial damages were settled outside, privately, and are assumed to not reach 7 digits. Whether you believe she was due damages and why is another story altogether, and a quick search in GD will show a slew of threads on the subject (IMNSHO, she should not have been awarded any money, but I wasn’t on the jury).

Everyone is going to get sued; band, band management, club owners, probably even the fire marshalls. As to whom will be liable for what, I’ll reserve judgment until I have good facts, not the latest rumor screamed out on CNN because they wanted a scoop.