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Chicago Fire Settlement Reaches $100 Million

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Chicago, IL: The settlement for victims of a fatal 2003 Chicago administration building fire has reached a combined amount of $100 million. The settlement comes after the City of Chicago and two other defendants avoided a trial by agreeing to the settlement amount.

The city and the two defendants agreed to settle for an amount of approximately $75 million just a week after six other defendants and Cook County agreed to settle for $25 million. These settlement amounts are a result of a fire that occurred in the 37-story Cook County Administration Building. Six office workers were killed and 16 others were injured. This resulted in more than twenty lawsuits.

Fire FightingIn the lawsuits, the victims and the survivors of victims pointed out a number of mistakes that were made by 911 operators and by firefighters. The first is for poor communication and the second is the failure of the firefighters to designate a stairwell for evacuation and another to fight the fire.

Attorneys for the plaintiffs say that a firefighter had ordered the workers to go back up a stairwell that was locked. The stairwell had self-locking doors and had soon filled with smoke while firefighters were fighting a fire below them on the 12th floor. It is in that stairwell that six workers had died.

On April 28, 2008, the city had agreed to pay $35 million from insurance and $15 million from public funds. Building management will pay another $24 million and Cook County will pay $9 million. This settlement has been cited as one of the largest in the city. However, the disaster that occurred was one of the largest the city had seen.

Twenty-two plaintiffs are receiving damages. The damages to each plaintiff are as little as $159,000 and as much as $11.7 million. This includes awards to the families of those who were killed and to those who were injured in the blaze.

Jury selection was originally scheduled to begin on April 28, but it was behind closed doors that a settlement was being mediated throughout much of the day. After the settlement was agreed upon, it was finally announced to the public.

By: Ginger Gillenwater

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