Victims of Indiana State Fair Stage Collapse Offered Additional $13.2 Million

by RyanD on September 22, 2012

On August 13, 2011, a thunderstorm blew in to the Indiana State Fair, causing a stage rigging collapse. The stage rigging collapse killed seven people and injured almost 60 concertgoers who had gathered to watch the country band Sugarland perform.

Reports Cite Inadequacies

Two consulting firms, Witt Associates and Thornton Tomasetti, were hired by the state to investigate the stage collapse and the emergency procedures that were in place. A report by the Witt Associates said that the fair did not have appropriate emergency procedures in place prior to the stage collapse. The consulting firm concentrated on the decision making process that occurred leading up to the collapse. A severe thunderstorm warning had been issued shortly before the concert, but Sugarland representatives insisted that they could play. Fair officials made the decision to evacuate, but the stage collapsed before they had the chance to make the announcement.

Charles Fisher of Witt Associates said that the fair did not have a clear protocol to delay concerts, resulting in “ambiguity of authority.” Fisher claims that the fair lacked an adequate emergency plan for an event as large as the State Fair.

The investigation by Thornton Tomasetti focused on the construction and inspection of the stage rigging. An official from Thornton Tomasetti found that the stage rigging was not constructed to comply with the applicable building codes. With the speakers and other equipment attached to the rigging, the official estimated that the structure could only withstand wind gusts between 20 and 40 miles per hour. According to the report, the stage rigging likely collapsed when the winds reached 33 miles per hour.

The Indiana Occupational Health and Safety Administration (IOHSA) reached similar conclusions in a report released in February. IOHSA cited the Indiana State Fair Commission’s failure to adequately construct and inspect the stage rigging prior to the concert. The agency also found that the commission had inadequate emergency preparation plans in place. Based on these findings, IOHSA issued $80,000 in fines.

Following the reports from the consulting firms, the Indiana State Fair Commission has released a comprehensive plan that addresses how officials and employees should respond to a wide variety of emergency situations.

Victims and Families Offered Additional $13.2 Million

On Friday, June 22, Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller announced that victims of the collapse can apply for an additional $13.2 million in compensation. The compensation is for those who were physically injured in the collapse and for the estates of those who died as a result. The state had already “paid” the victims and their families $5 million, the maximum amount allowed under Indiana law. The state realized that the amount was insufficient to cover the medical bills for the victims who suffered long-term injuries.

$6 million is offered as supplemental state compensation that had been approved by the Indiana General Assembly. An additional $7.2 million will come from the two companies who were named as defendants in lawsuits related to the stage collapse.

Sugarland has also been sued by the victims and their families. The lawsuits allege that the band members did not appreciate the risk posed by the impending storm and failed to delay their concert. Attorneys for the band have requested a jury trial.

Michelle Schwarz is a freelance blogger who understands that probate law is difficult to understand. There are many firms that specialize in probate law to help.




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