Deep pocket files: The Great White shakedown winds down

Sealed Air makes polyethylene foam for packaging material. The Great White plaintiffs allege that polyethylene foam in the soundproofing was part of the reason the Rhode Island Station nightclub fire spread so fast, killing 100–though they have no evidence that Sealed Air manufactured the foam in the club, not to mention the fact that the packing foam was never intended to be used as building material. Not to worry: with joint and several liability in Rhode Island, Sealed Air faced billions of dollars of potential liability because all of the other deep pockets (dozens of defendants ranging from a radio station to four other foam manufacturers to Anheuser-Busch to the bus that transported the band to the concert to a television station that covered the fire) have settled, Sealed Air couldn’t risk being held even 1% liable, especially given that at a trial plaintiffs would have no incentive to blame empty-chair or empty-pocket or settling defendants. Sealed Air will pay $25 million in protection money. (AP; Providence Journal; TortsProf). The miscarriage of justice continues, but the remaining defendants are apparently judgment-proof.


  • Someone should look in to the trucking companies that might have delivered the foam which might have been used as sound proofing. Or the companies who paved the roads on which the trucks ran; or the oil companies who found and processed the fuel in the trucks; or the drivers of those trucks (maybe not the drivers – based on the depth of their pockets, they’re probably no culpable; and on and on…

  • Here is where our media fail miserably. The political problem is in decoupling the problem of deep pocket extortion from the horrible loss of life. Only the media can do this. No local politican can argue against getting money for the families of the victims.

    How did the wrong kind of insulation get into the building? That would make a wonderful series of articles, and would focus on the most important factor in the tragedy. Then the community could work on building codes and whether any particular entity should have foreseen the possibility of a conflagration. Holding the town responsible to some extent would mitigate the Neely effect of having joy in transferring wealth from outside people to the locals.

  • To quote (though not Verbatim) the movie Rising Sun:
    “In America, we try to fix blame. In Japan, they try to fix the problem.”

    Although it may not hold true today-and may only be a part of the movie-that truly is where we are.

    William has nailed it on the head. I have always thought that changes could be made if the people get behind it. The liberal press cannot allow it. Will not allow.

    If someone were to say that the deep pockets can’t be sued, they would be destroyed in the press for headlines to sell papers.

    I semi-jokingly say: “Where’s a sniper when you need one?”

    These people are leeches on society.

    I do believe that there should be life/career/business destroying liablility for sometning like this, but not for selling products that can burn! Or, advertising, or promoting, or busing, or anything around the scene/accident that can be used to pull on the heartstrings of the jury.

    Freekin’ bleedin’ hearts.