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AG's office begins distribution of funds to State Fair victims

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The estates of the seven people killed by the stage collapse at the Indiana State Fair in August will receive at least $300,000 each if the offers extended by the state are accepted, Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller announced Tuesday. Some of those injured in the collapse will receive nothing from the $5 million Indiana Tort Claim Fund.

Those seven estates could collectively receive more than $2.18 million, with 58 of the surviving victims who were among the most severely injured receiving a portion of the remaining funds, ranging from $503,000 to $109 per victim. Thirty-one claimants will receive nothing from the state.

The amounts announced Tuesday must be accepted or rejected by the claimants. Each has until Dec. 12 to respond. If the funds are rejected, that money would be allotted for other claimants who accepted offers and their amounts would be recalculated. Once offers are accepted and claimants sign a release of liability, the state will pay out the money later this month.

Zoeller announced shortly after the Aug. 13 incident that he would distribute the full $5 million in tort claim funds to victims on an expedited basis. Kenneth Feinberg, who administered victim compensation funds after 9/11, the Virginia Tech shootings and the BP Gulf oil spill, was brought in to devise a protocol for distributing the settlement payments.

More than 100 tort claim notices were filed with the Office of the Indiana Attorney General in an attempt to receive a portion of the $5 million – the state’s maximum tort claim payout for this incident. U.S. Judge Sarah Evans Barker recently granted limited class certification in a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of that cap.

During the process of calculating offers, the AG’s office participated in mediation with a group of 30 attorneys and law firms representing many claimants and reached tentative accord on the protocol. The AG’s office said settlement offers are with the consent of the governor's office, and all claimants have the legal right to decline a settlement offer and take their chances and file a lawsuit in court.

 

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