Partial settlement reached for E2 nightclub victims
February 8, 2006 (WLS) -- The owners of a Chicago nightclub where 21 people died during a stampede reached a tentative settlement with the victims' families -- a partial settlement for $1.5 million.
Dwain Kyles and business partner Calvin Hollins Junior agreed to the settlement, but they still face criminal charges along with two others. The partial settlement does not include a lawsuit against the City of Chicago, which is being sued for failing to close the club sooner for building code violations.
Lawsuits typically target deep pockets. In this case, the club's owner and his insurance company say they're tapped-out, which is why the lawyers are moving on after agreeing to a relatively inexpensive settlement.
The pictures are unforgettable. And the "pain" -- according to attorneys -- is incalculable. But lawyers representing relatives of the 21 killed inside the E-2 Nightclub, as well as the nearly 100 injured, agreed Wednesday to take their focus off of club owner Dwain Kyles and his business partner Calvin Hollins. The agreed upon settlement price: $1.5 million.
"The $1.5 million is not nearly enough to begin to serve as any meaningful recovery for these individuals and their families that have suffered such loss. This is just a partial settlement," said Robert Phillips, E2 victims' attorney.
The $1.5 million represents the extent of E2's insurance. Typically, attorney receive as much as one-third of any settlement, which would be roughly $500,000 in this case. Half of what's left -- or another $500,000-- would be split among relatives of the 21 who died. The rest would go to those who were injured.
Attorneys say the deaths at the club, criminal charges and the ensuing lawsuits have left Kyles and Hollins in personal and financial ruin.
"What Dwayne and Calvin hope for is with this partial, tentative settlement they can put these families on a path to getting the closure they need. At this point it's a very small step and I encourage the other defendants to come in and play their part," said Ed Grasse, Dwain Kyles' attorney.
The other defendants include the City of Chicago -- which is being criticized for not ensuring that a club with building code violations was shut down. Police and firefighters have also drawn the eye of attorneys who claim some first responders did little more than stand-around while hundreds of people became crushed in a doorway while trying to flee.
Prosecutors filed criminal charges against club management. One attorney calls that an attempt to rig the outcome of lawsuits.... he points out the politically-connected person in charge of the County Building where 6 people died in a fire wasn't criminally charged... and neither was the owner of a Lincoln Park apartment where 13 people were killed when the porch collapsed.
"This is an overt effort on behalf of the city to divert responsibility from itself to somebody else," said R. Eugene Pincham, attorney.
The parent-company of WGCI radio is also named in a lawsuit. Attorneys claim a station DJ incited the mad dash for the door by encouraging security guards to pour-on the pepper-spray as they tried to break-up a fight.
In a deposition obtained by ABC 7... a witness says the DJ proclaimed over the loudspeaker "You're not going to (expletive) up my party tonight. Spray the whole (expletive) club."
"After mace is sprayed this disc jockey continues to go on and make these crude comments to continue in his efforts to promote the use of mace," said Mel Brooks, victims' attorney.
The city has long-maintained that the operators of E2 broke the law by ignoring a building department order to shutdown the second floor of the club. Had that order been honored, the club wouldn't have been packed and lives would have been saved, according to city attorneys. Clear Channel has not returned calls for comment.
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