Connecticut City Settles Lawsuit over Christmas Day Fire that Killed Five

By DAVE COLLINS

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — A woman whose three daughters and parents died in a 2011 Christmas morning fire is dropping a lawsuit against the city of Stamford, because officials followed through on promises to change local fire laws.

A document filed Wednesday in federal court in Bridgeport shows the city settled the lawsuit with New York advertising executive Madonna Badger. A copy of the agreement obtained by The Associated Press shows the city also will pay Badger's lawyer $150,000.

The fire broke out early Christmas morning after Badger and her boyfriend, Michael Borcina, finished wrapping presents. The blaze killed 7-year-old twins Grace and Sarah Badger, 9-year-old Lily Badger and their maternal grandparents, Lomar and Pauline Johnson. Badger and Borcina escaped the flames.

Authorities said a bag of fireplace ashes started the blaze. Borcina, who died of cancer in October, initially told authorities he left the bag of ashes in a mudroom, but he later said during a deposition that Badger was the one who left it in the mudroom.

Badger's lawsuit accused city officials of failing to properly oversee renovations at the home being performed by Borcina and other contractors, including the installation of a new fire alarm and smoke-detection system.

She also alleged that city officials improperly ordered the house demolished the day after the fire, destroying evidence that could have shown the city's inspection failures, why the fire alarm system didn't work and a possible electrical cause of the fire.

City officials denied the allegations and did not admit to any wrongdoing in the settlement. A city lawyer declined to comment Thursday.

The settlement called for the city to change its ordinances to require the state fire marshal be notified of any fatal fires in the city and require officials to notify the state fire marshal and property owner before homes are demolished after fatal fires. The city's Board of Representatives approved the changes in September.

Badger's lawyer, Frank Corso, said his only comment was: "The case was settled on terms that will advance the public good."

Stamford previously agreed to pay $6.65 million to settle a similar lawsuit in state court filed by the three girls' father, Matthew Badger, on their behalf. He died in February 2017 before the settlement was reached.

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