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Human Interest

Settlement Reached in Lawsuit Over Christmas Day Fire That Killed Matthew Badger’s Three Daughters

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Matthew Badger with (from left)  daughters Grace, Sarah and Lily
Courtesy Matthew Badger

Late Tuesday evening, Matthew Badger’s estate reached a settlement against the town of Stamford, Connecticut, over a Christmas Day fire that claimed the lives of his three daughters and their grandparents in 2011, according to a statement given to PEOPLE.

Matthew, 51, died in February and his brother, Campbell Badger, took over as administrator of his estate. The fire was at the home of Madonna Badger, Matthew’s ex-wife and the mother of 9-year-old Lily and twins Sarah and Grace, 7, who perished in the fire. Matthew started the nonprofit LilySarahGrace fund in honor of his daughters after their deaths.

“I appreciate that the Stamford defendants have agreed to resolve this case,” Campbell said in a statement provided by attorney Ilann Margalit Maazel that was issued on behalf of the city as well. “This has been a great ordeal for my brother, for Madonna Badger, and for my entire family.”

Matthew filed the lawsuit against the city, furious over its decision to demolish the remains of the home 24 hours after the blaze, thus preventing a final cause from being determined and without consulting Madonna or Matthew. Madonna and her then-boyfriend, contractor Michael Borcina, who was working on the home, were the sole survivors of the fire. Madonna’s parents, Lomar and Pauline Johnson, died as well. The trial was scheduled to begin in late May.

The cause of the fire was going to be an issue at trial. The Stamford fire marshal initially concluded it started in the mudroom, where either Borcina or Madonna had placed hot embers in a paper bag from a fire in the home’s fireplace that evening. Madonna believed the fire started as a result of the home’s outdated electrical system. The state fire marshal was not initially consulted and could not reach a conclusion on how the fire started because the home was torn down the day after the fire.

Matthew settled his lawsuit against Borcina and other contractors for $6 million in August 2016. Borcina gave a deposition on the case in 2016, saying it was Madonna who put the ashes in the mudroom, not him, and was on the witness list for both sides for the upcoming trial. Frank Corso, Madonna’s attorney, declined to comment while Robert Laney, Borcina’s attorney, could not immediately be reached for comment.

Matthew Badger
Mike Coppola/Getty

The settlement addresses Matthew’s concerns about the home’s premature demolition.

“The city is sympathetic to the tremendous losses suffered by the Badger family,” the statements said. “Understanding the family’s concern that the demolition of the house prevented them from being able to conduct their own investigation of the cause of the fire, the City has agreed to address the circumstances under which a fire ravaged home can be demolished.”

As part of the settlement, the city will pay an undisclosed amount to the estate and will contribute $250,000 to fund a scholarship at a school to be determined or some other charity of Campbell Badger’s choice recognizing Lily, Sarah and Grace, the statement said.

“The parties consider the settlement to be fair,” the statement said. “The claims were resolved without reflecting any liability or fault on the part of the defendants.”