R.I. high court will review penalty for employee deaths in 2003 fire

July 7, 2013 at 5:18 PM
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PROVIDENCE, Ohio, July 7 (UPI) -- The Rhode Island Supreme Court said it will review a $1.066 million penalty levied against owners of a nightclub where 100 people died in a 2003 fire.

The court in Providence ordered Michael and Jeffrey Derderian, the owners of The Station nightclub in West Warwick that burned to the ground, to pay the penalty for failing to carry workers' compensation insurance for their employees, the (Providence) Journal reported Saturday.

Four employees of The Station died in the Feb. 20, 2003: Steven and Andrea Mancini, Tracy King and Dina Ann DiMaio.

Bernard P. Healy of the state Department of Labor and Training urged the court not to review the penalty -- the highest ever assessed by the state in a worker's compensation case -- because the Derderians had benefited from the almost nine-year delay in determining the penalty because no interest accrued on the amount.

"There should be no further delay" in the brothers paying up, Healy said

But the Derderians said they hadn't purchased the necessary workers' compensation insurance because they mistakenly believed it wasn't required because none of their nightclub employees worked for them full time.

The nightclub owners said they did pay for workers' compensation insurance for their North Kingstown gas station, for which they hired full-time employees. They said they weren't merely flagrantly disregarding the law.

The Derderians said their appeal for a vacation or reduction of the amount of the penalty "raises substantial constitutional questions" and "novel" interpretations of Rhode Island law.

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