14 cases still pending in Marshall Square saga

Published: Dec. 5, 2016 at 6:17 PM EST
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News 12 NBC 26 / Monday, December 5, 2016

COLUMBIA COUNTY, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) -- A last minute settlement saves some victims of the Marshall Square fire from a long, complicated trial.

That trial would have started today.

Even though one case is closed, this saga is long from over. The last minutes settlement on Thursday was a big win, but since there are still 14 other lawsuits pending, there wasn't much time to celebrate before lawyers had to put their heads down and start working on the next one.

"Technically we have three cases pending now," victims' attorney Harry Revell said.

We'll categorize it like this: suits for property damage, one for pain and suffering, and one for wrongful death. There are still 21 people waiting for justice on property damage alone, some in a case together, some represented by different attorneys, but all are waiting on resolution just the same.

That's not the only similarity for the ones under attorney Harry Revell.

"The issues are the same, the defendants are the same, the lawyers are the same, the judge is the same," he said.

He hopes that means last week's settlement will pave the way in these pending cases, too.

"We would hope that perhaps in short order maybe in the next 30 to 45 days the other property damage cases could be evaluated and negotiated," Revell said.

The two other cases have a much more emotional component to them, like the one for Rhetta Cadle who was rescued from the rubble seven hours after the fire started and survived by covering herself in wet towels.

"A true miracle that she survived with the building literally burning down around her," he said.

The last case is on behalf of Dorothy "Dot" Carpenter, the only person who died in the fire. Some blame her death on a policy telling people to stay in their rooms. Others blame Columbia County Fire Rescue for not checking her room. Lawyers are asking for at least $15 million in punitive damages. That doesn't not include the value of her life.

"The value of a life, I'm not going to put a number on that. We're going to let a jury ascribe a number to that," he said.

Lawyers have been working day and night to get ready for this trial, so a lot of the leg work in these pending cases is already done because so much overlaps. Revell hopes both Cadle and Carpenter's cases could be resolved within the first six months of next year.

Besides Cadle and Carpenter's cases, the law firm Nicholson and Revell also represent six plaintiffs in the Tom England property damage lawsuit and six more that being handled out of court. The rest of the lawsuits are individual filings under a different attorney.