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Last Updated:  Wednesday, 5 March, 2003, 15:08 GMT
Lawsuit filed over US club fire
People pass flower tributes for dead club goers
Nearly 100 people died in the fire
The relatives of two people killed in a nightclub fire in the United States have launched legal actions against the club's owners, the rock band playing at the time and local officials for negligence.

The wrongful death suit was filed by the families of Tina Ayer, 33, of Warwick, Rhode Island and Donald Rodriques, 46, of Fall River, Massachusetts.

Ninety-eight people were killed and 180 injured last month in the fire at the club near Providence, Rhode Island, which was sparked by an on stage pyrotechnic show.

The band, Great White, say they had permission for the fireworks, but the owners say they did not.

Finger of blame

In an effort to establish whether criminal charges should be filed over the fire on 20 February at least one member of the band testified before a grand jury on Tuesday.

Great White's guitarist Mark Kendall told a Boston television station that he had given a brief testimony, and that he expected to appear again.

The band's lawyer Ed McPherson only said that the members of the group were co-operating fully.

Firefighters at club scene
The club was consumed by flames within minutes

Great White guitarist Ty Longley was among those killed.

The lawsuits filed on behalf of the families of Ayer and Rodriques are believed to be the first from any of the victim's families.

"It's in my clients' best interest to file as soon as possible in this case. I've got several young children who lost their breadwinners, and clearly there are insufficient funds to compensate everyone," said Brian Cunha, a lawyer representing the families.

Although the law suit does not specify the amount of compensation being sought, Mr Cunha said he will be seeking at least one million dollars for each victim.

Death trap foam

State Representative Tim Williamson, who is also the town solicitor for West Warwick, said since the fire was still being investigated the lawsuit was premature.

"It seems the attorneys are being opportunistic. It doesn't put these attorneys' clients in any better position by filing first," Mr Williamson said.

Along with the club owners and the band the lawsuits also name West Warwick Fire Inspector Denis Larocque and American Foam Corp - the company where the club bought its soundproofing.

Investigators say the club was soundproofed with a polyurethane foam of the type used in egg-cartons, which is 20 times more flammable than wood and emits a thick, toxic smoke.

The fireworks ignited the foam, causing a fast moving fire that consumed the club within minutes.

The club's owners, Jeffrey and Michael Derderian, said they had no idea the foam was dangerous and fire inspections carried out at the club failed to spot the material covering the walls.

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