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64 claimants accepted settlement offers stemming from stage collapse

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Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller announced Monday that 64 of 65 claimants offered settlements in the Indiana State Fair stage collapse have accepted the offers. Checks will be issued by year-end, the AG’s office said, paying out the entire $5 million in tort claim funds the state has available by law.

"Deciding on compensation for the victims of the State Fair tragedy is one of the most difficult duties the Indiana Attorney General's Office has ever undertaken. From the start we knew that no matter how we divided the $5 million available, it could never replace the seven lives lost nor erase the pain of the injured and grieving. We did all that was possible to treat victims equitably and to assist them with their medical and financial needs within the amount the law allows," Zoeller said.

Defending the state's Tort Claim Fund, which is made up of tax dollars, from claims and potential lawsuits is one of the duties of the attorney general's office. After the deadly stage rigging collapse Aug. 13 at the Indiana State Fair, Zoeller announced that he would make available the $5 million in tort claim funds without regard to liability.

Working with nationally known expert Kenneth Feinberg, who administered victim compensation programs after 9/11 and the BP oil spill, Zoeller's office designed a victim-centered program where victims could submit tort claims to the state and receive settlement payments on an expedited basis, even if they did not hire an attorney.

A total of 114 individual claimants – including the representatives of the seven deceased – filed a total 101 claims and used a customized State Fair claim form the AG’s office developed. The state also retained claims management firm JWF Specialty Company to receive and review the claims and follow up with claimants to obtain additional medical documentation.

Under the compensation protocol Feinberg helped design, the estates of the seven deceased victims were guaranteed settlements of at least $300,000 each. Another 58 claimants who were most seriously injured and met at least one other protocol criteria were offered payments equal to approximately 65 percent of their medical and hospital bills submitted to date. Since that amount will exhaust the rest of the $5 million the sate has available, claimants with non-physical injuries did not receive settlement offers under the protocol.

On Dec.6, the state sent offer notices to 65 eligible claimants or their representatives requesting a prompt reply. Although claimants had the legal right to decline the offers, all but one accepted, including the estates of all seven deceased victims. The remaining $1,691 that one claimant's attorney declined was redistributed among the other 64 claimants and their offers were recalculated. In accepting offers, claimants sign settlement documents releasing the state of Indiana from future liability. That does not prevent claimants from pursuing separate legal actions against other private entities over the stage rigging collapse.

 

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  1. What a fine article, thank you! I can testify firsthand and by detailed legal reports (at end of this note) as to the dire consequences of rejecting this truth from the fine article above: "The inclusion and expansion of this right [to jury] in Indiana’s Constitution is a clear reflection of our state’s intention to emphasize the importance of every Hoosier’s right to make their case in front of a jury of their peers." Over $20? Every Hoosier? Well then how about when your very vocation is on the line? How about instead of a jury of peers, one faces a bevy of political appointees, mini-czars, who care less about due process of the law than the real czars did? Instead of trial by jury, trial by ideological ordeal run by Orwellian agents? Well that is built into more than a few administrative law committees of the Ind S.Ct., and it is now being weaponized, as is revealed in articles posted at this ezine, to root out post moderns heresies like refusal to stand and pledge allegiance to all things politically correct. My career was burned at the stake for not so saluting, but I think I was just one of the early logs. Due, at least in part, to the removal of the jury from bar admission and bar discipline cases, many more fires will soon be lit. Perhaps one awaits you, dear heretic? Oh, at that Ind. article 12 plank about a remedy at law for every damage done ... ah, well, the founders evidently meant only for those damages done not by the government itself, rabid statists that they were. (Yes, that was sarcasm.) My written reports available here: Denied petition for cert (this time around): http://tinyurl.com/zdmawmw Denied petition for cert (from the 2009 denial and five year banishment): http://tinyurl.com/zcypybh Related, not written by me: Amicus brief: http://tinyurl.com/hvh7qgp

  2. Justice has finally been served. So glad that Dr. Ley can finally sleep peacefully at night knowing the truth has finally come to the surface.

  3. While this right is guaranteed by our Constitution, it has in recent years been hampered by insurance companies, i.e.; the practice of the plaintiff's own insurance company intervening in an action and filing a lien against any proceeds paid to their insured. In essence, causing an additional financial hurdle for a plaintiff to overcome at trial in terms of overall award. In a very real sense an injured party in exercise of their right to trial by jury may be the only party in a cause that would end up with zero compensation.

  4. Why in the world would someone need a person to correct a transcript when a realtime court reporter could provide them with a transcript (rough draft) immediately?

  5. This article proved very enlightening. Right ahead of sitting the LSAT for the first time, I felt a sense of relief that a score of 141 was admitted to an Indiana Law School and did well under unique circumstances. While my GPA is currently 3.91 I fear standardized testing and hope that I too will get a good enough grade for acceptance here at home. Thanks so much for this informative post.

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