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Boston Wrongful Death: Families of Firefighters Killed in West Roxbury Restaurant Blaze Agree to $2.2 Million Settlement

In Massachusetts, the families of Boston firefighters Warren J. Payne and Paul J. Cahill have reached a $2.2 million Boston wrongful death settlement with defendants Tai Ho Mandarin and Cantonese restaurant, J& B Cleaning, and the restaurant’s landlord, Continental Realty LLC. The two men died in 2007 while trying to put out a fire at the restaurant. 12 other firefighters were sent to the hospital following the blaze.

The plaintiffs contended that the three companies knew or should have known that grease from the exhaust pipe in the restaurant kitchen had leaked into the ceiling. They claim that this caused the fireball that killed Cahill and Payne. While Payne died immediately, Cahill died from smoke inhalation.

Autopsy reports indicate that there were signs of cocaine in Payne’s system and alcohol in Cahill’s body. This information was given to the defendants before a Massachusetts wrongful death settlement was reached. The attorney for Continental Realty maintains that his client did nothing wrong.

J & B Cleaning had been hired to clean the stove, the area around it, and the floor under it. Massachusetts fire codes require restaurants to make sure that exhaust ducts are cleaned each quarter and all grease buildup is eliminated. While J & B cleaned the hood and the stove, a cleaning receipt shows that the company failed to clean the duct.

The two firefighters’ families will share the Boston wrongful death settlement, with a portion of it to go to the city and another firefighter that got hurt in the blaze. Since the deadly West Roxbury blaze, Massachusetts and Boston have created tougher regulations that commercial kitchen grease cleaners have to follow. Boston cleaners now have to register with the Fire Department and pass a certification test before they can work in a city restaurant.

Boston workers that are injured or killed on the job are likely entitled to Massachusetts workers’ compensation benefits. They also may be entitled to Boston personal injury damages-or their families may be able to obtain Boston wrongful death compensation if a third party is found liable for causing the work accident.

Families get $2.2 million in BFD Tragedy, Boston Herald, June 6, 2009
2 firefighters die, 12 hurt in blaze, Boston.com, August 30, 2007

Related Web Resource:
Fire Department, City of Boston
Wrongful Death, The General Laws of Massachusetts