A Connecticut contractor will pay $5 million to settle a wrongful-death lawsuit after his company accidentally caused a house fire that killed three girls and two of their grandparents on Christmas in 2011.
Michael Borcina, founder and owner of Tiberias Construction, was found responsible for the fire, which occurred while his company was renovating a $1.7 million Victorian home in Stamford. On Tuesday, his lawyers confirmed the final amount to the Associated Press after they reached a decision on Dec. 10.
Matthew Badger, the girls’ father, argued in a 2012 lawsuit that Borcina and his crew didn’t install a smoke-detection system that might have prevented the fire that authorities say started from a bag of fireplace ashes discarded in a mudroom.
The girls’ mother, Madonna Badger, a New York City advertising executive, was dating Borcina at the time and wasn't harmed. She later told reporters that he had used his hands to make sure the ashes were no longer burning, and that she herself glanced at the bag before going upstairs to sleep after wrapping presents on Christmas morning.
The blaze killed twins Grace and Sarah Badger, who were 7 years old, their 9-year-old sister Lily and their maternal grandparents Lomer and Pauline Johnson.
“The girls died before they could escape the home, which had become a firetrap as a result of months of substandard construction leading up to the fire,” read the lawsuit, filed by Stamford attorney Jon Whitcomb, according to the Stamford Advocate.
But this wasn’t Borcina’s only legal problem. He also owed nearly $100,000 in legal fines from other projects in the area, as the Connecticut Post reported in 2012. And the recent $5 million settlement could be the first of many.
“It is nowhere near reflective of the ultimate value of this case: three little girls’ lives,” Badger’s lawyer Richard Emery told the AP. “No money could compensate for that,” he said.