Sofa Super Store settles for $1.9 million in wrongful death suits

Updated: Jul. 1, 2011 at 9:07 PM EDT
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CHARLESTON, SC (AP) - - A Charleston furniture store where nine firefighters died four years ago has agreed to pay the men's families nearly $2 million to settle wrongful death lawsuits.

Attorney Kevin Dean said Friday the Sofa Super Store had agreed to pay $1.9 million to the families of the men killed in the June 2007 blaze.

The fire is thought to have been started by discarded cigarettes. A 2008 report by fire experts hired by the city concluded inadequate training, outdated tactics and aging equipment contributed to the deaths of the nine.

Federal investigators have concluded the rapidly spreading fire would have been contained if there had been sprinklers on a loading dock where it broke out.

"My children and I, as well as the other Charleston 9 families, have suffered such an immense loss that no other family should ever have to endure. My hope is that we not only continue to honor the memory of the Charleston 9, but also call attention to the negligence and failures that led to the tragedy," said Heather Baity, widow of fallen firefighter Rodney Baity.

"These families were determined to try to prevent future tragedies like this from happening. They hope they have succeeded in making our community safer for everyone. Now they can move forward. It was our honor to represent these families." said David Whittington of Knight Law Firm.

Read the settlement here.

Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.