Stamford Fatal Christmas Fire Settlement Was For $6.65 Million

The Stamford Advocate is reporting that the recently settled lawsuit involving the City of Stamford over the fire on Christmas morning 2011 that killed five family members, involved a payment of $6.65 million to the plaintiffs.

When the settlement was made public in May 2017, the amount of the settlement was confidential. The Stamford Advocate, through some diligent research, was able to ascertain the settlement amount from probate records in the Stamford Probate Court. Those records show that the city paid the estates of Lily Badger, 9, and her twin sisters, Sarah and Grace, 7, $3.87 million, and attorneys’ fees and disbursements amounted to $2.52 million. Also $250,000 was paid to the Stamford chapter of the Girl Scouts of America to fund a scholarship in the girls’ names.

Besides the three sisters, the fire killed their grandparents, Lomer Johnson, 71, and Pauline Johnson, 69. The girls’ mother, Madonna Badger, and Michael Borcina, barely escaped the blaze.

At issue in the case was the fire’s cause, and the role that ongoing renovations to the house played in the fire’s spread. The city blamed the fire on carelessly discarded fireplace ashes, something Badger and Borcina vehemently deny. The city ordered the house torn down the day after the fire without notice to any of the parties, preventing any further investigation into the matter. The demolition in turn led to allegations of spoliation against the city.

Two other suits arising out of the fire are reported to be close to settlement. One was a state court wrongful death suit filed on behalf of the Johnsons, and the other was a federal court suit brought by Madonna Badger over the demolition and disposal of her home without notice.

Here is more on the story.

About Curt Varone

Curt Varone has over 40 years of fire service experience and 30 as a practicing attorney licensed in both Rhode Island and Maine. His background includes 29 years as a career firefighter in Providence (retiring as a Deputy Assistant Chief), as well as volunteer and paid on call experience. He is the author of two books: Legal Considerations for Fire and Emergency Services, (2006, 2nd ed. 2011, 3rd ed. 2014) and Fire Officer's Legal Handbook (2007), and is a contributing editor for Firehouse Magazine writing the Fire Law column.
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