A lawmaker-firefighter who was one of the first responders to the fire at the Rhode Island nightclub The Station is backing a proposal that would allow the state to file felony charges when someone is seriously injured because of negligence.
The Providice Journal reports that Rep. Norman L. Landroche Jr. said “an apparent gap” in state law became clear after the Feb. 20 nightclub fire, which killed 100 and injured 200 others. A grand jury indicted three people on involuntary manslaughter charges, but the state had no way to pursue charges on behalf of the injured.
Under the legislation, when someone is seriously injured as a direct result of criminal negligence, the negligent person can be found guilty of assault or battery. The maximum penalty is 10 years in prison and a $10,000 fine. Landroche said the bill does not target “ordinary negligence” such as slipping on an orange.
The grand jury indicted the club owners and the Great White band tour manager, but survivors and relatives of victims question why town and state inspectors have not been charged. The rock band’s concert began with a burst of pyrotechnics that ignited flammable soundproofing foam around the stage. The club was inspected several times after the foam was installed but inspectors never cited it as a safety violation.