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100 tort claim notices filed in State Fair stage collapse

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Note: This story has been updated to reflect the most recent numbers released by the Office of the Indiana Attorney General.

As of Nov. 2, the Office of the Indiana Attorney General has received 100 tort claim notices related to the stage collapse at the Indiana State Fair in August. The deadline for submission of the tort claim form was Nov. 1.

Bryan Corbin, litigation public information officer for the AG’s office, said the number may increase slightly because the office will accept any claims postmarked by midnight Nov. 1.

Of the 100 claims, 49 were re-filed using the tort claim form created by Kenneth Feinberg. Before the form was created, some had sent tort claim notice letters or used the standard Indiana tort claim form.

Corbin said some of the original claims were submitted jointly by multiple members of the same family, so they were asked to re-file for each injured member. The attorney general’s claims management staff will be reviewing the claim notices and following up for any additional documents, such as medical records, that may be needed.

The timeline for filing a tort claim notice was informally shortened in order to expedite the payment process. Corbin said the office heard from people that they wanted to be compensated now for the injuries, not years from now. Claimants legally still have 270 days from the Aug. 13 incident to file a tort claim notice.

Those who filed claim notices are seeking payment from the $5 million Indiana Tort Claim Fund. Seven people died and more than 40 people were injured in the stage collapse at the Sugarland concert Aug. 13. Some lawmakers have indicated they would like to consider raising the $5 million cap to address the needs of the victims in this incident or whether it should be raised in general, although it appears unlikely that the matter will be heard during the 2012 legislative session.

A Valparaiso attorney has filed a federal class-action lawsuit challenging the cap on grounds that it violates due process and equal protection because it denies individuals their fair share.

A relief fund was established by the Indiana State Fair Commission to distribute money to victims of the collapse, providing between $3,000 and $25,000 per injured person, depending on the length of stay in a hospital, and $35,000 for death claims.
 

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