The Fallout from an Indiana State Fair Stage Collapse

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On August 13 th 2011, people were wounded and some died due to a stage collapsing before a Sugarland concert in Indiana. A storm rolled into the Indiana State Fair and capsized the stage leaving up to 40 people wounded and 7 people killed. The opening band had just finished its set and no one was on stage when the rigging was torn down in strong winds.

The Indiana State Fair Commission adopted a process for distribution of donations from the State Fair Relief Fund which will enable payments to victims of the Aug. 13 accident at the Indiana State Fairgrounds to begin as early as next week. A claim form will be available, and distributions will begin as soon as claims information is verified.

The relief fund , which totals over $796,280.50 to date, will be distributed according to four classifications:

  • $35,000 for death claims:
  • $25,000 for those hospitalized for at least 10 days and nights
  • $7,500 for those hospitalized for 4-9 days and nights
  • $3,000 for those hospitalized for 1-3 nights and days

Payments from the relief fund are a gift from donors and are not considered as compensation for injuries or death resulting from the accident. Acceptance of relief funds does not constitute a waiver or release of any claims victims, or their representatives, may have against an entity that may later be found liable for the accident.

Several victims and families were also pursing separate lawsuits against companies involved with the concert and the stage construction. This includes a same sex couple that was torn apart because one of them died due to the stage collapse.

Alisha Brennon and Christina Santiago made their relationship official this past summer, soon after Illinois’ civil union law began recognizing same-sex couples. Following Santiago’s death, her partner Alisha has filed a wrongful death suit seeking damages. The lawsuit highlights a new wrinkle caused by the patchwork of laws on the rights of gay and lesbian couples to marry or form civil unions. It might just happen that due to the laws in Indiana about damages being paid to next of kin, which Alisha Brennon may not be able to retain damages that are not under question for heterosexual couples.

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