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Settlement reached in Christmas fire that killed 5

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — A Connecticut city on Tuesday announced that it has settled a lawsuit filed by the family of three girls who died in a Christmas morning house fire that also killed their grandparents.

Terms of the settlement announced by Stamford legal affairs director Kathryn Emmett were not disclosed, but include a $250,000 donation from the city to a charity or school to be determined by the girl’s family.

The Dec. 25, 2011, fire killed 7-year-old twins Grace and Sarah Badger, 9-year-old Lily Badger, and their maternal grandparents, Lomar and Pauline Johnson.

The girls’ father, Matthew Badger, sued on their behalf.

He died in February, but his brother, Sherwin Campbell Badger, took over as executor. Jury selection had started in the case and a trial was expected to begin this month.

“The parties consider the settlement to be fair,” Emmett said in a statement to The Advocate newspaper. “The city is sympathetic to the tremendous losses suffered by the Badger family.”

The defendants did not admit any liability or fault in the settlement.

“I appreciate that the Stamford defendants have agreed to resolve this case,” Campbell Badger said in the joint statement.

Matthew Badger filed the lawsuit in 2012 and also named several contractors who had worked on the large home overlooking Long Island Sound. The general contractor, Michael Borcina, was dating the girls’ mother, Madonna Badger, at the time, and both of them escaped the blaze.

Borcina and other contractors previously settled claims against them for a total of more than $8 million.

The suit said the city failed to properly inspect renovations at the home. The suit alleged the city and some officials were reckless by giving Borcina a building permit even though he had no contractor’s license, and approved plans that didn’t include smoke detectors in the girls’ third-floor bedrooms, which were legally required.

The suit also said the city “engaged in a cover-up” when it tore down the house the day after it burned, thus eliminating evidence.

The city’s lawyers had denied all the allegations in the suit.

The fire was blamed on fireplace ashes placed in a bin and left in a mudroom. Borcina initially told authorities that he put the bin in the mudroom, but later said in a deposition that Madonna Badger placed the ashes there.

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