Indiana State Fair Stage Collapse Aftermath

The stage at the Indiana State Fair in Indianapolis collapsed almost one year ago on August 13, 2011. There are many lawsuits still pending and victims who have yet to see justice. It was only recently that Marion Superior Court Judge Theodore Sosin released an order acknowledging the attorneys’ requests to delay trial until after April 1, 2014. The judge did not set a trial date and ordered all parties to mediation.

Strong winds ahead of a thunderstorm sent the outdoor stage supports plunging onto fans waiting for the country band Sugarland to perform. More than 60 people were injured on that day and seven lost their lives.

Pro Bono Cases Accepted
My partner, Lance Cline and I were contacted by four of those victims. Due to the nature of their injuries and the circumstances of the injuries they sustained, we decided to take on the four cases pro bono.

After becoming more involved in the case, we encouraged the personal injury attorneys who represented other victims to do the same. (We were inspired by Minneapolis lawyers who had assembled a group of pro bono attorneys following the 35W bridge collapse in 2001). Lance and I felt that the victims had already suffered enough. We knew that due to the nature of the injuries of our clients the amount of settlement they could receive would be minimal considering the mounting medical bills they would have. And, we are always aware of the actions we can take to help better the reputation of our profession as a whole, to show we truly care about those who have suffered a personal injury.

Results Garnered
In October 2011, the State of Indiana paid the maximum amount allowable under our statutory cap, $5 million to the victims of the State Fair tragedy who qualified for payment. Lawmakers voted in March to give an additional $6 million to the remaining victims, which is pending final documentation for distribution.

New Regulations Announced
With festival season in full-swing, the new state rules announced in May require emergency plans as well as stage and equipment inspections by local authorities. The rules apply to outdoor stage rigging structures. From overhead lighting to sound equipment, the regulations cover all structures that are not attached to a permanent stage.

As new findings occur and judgments are made, we continue to stay invested in our client’s success.