ILNews

Class-action lawsuit filed over stage collapse

Scott Olson
August 31, 2011
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A class-action lawsuit filed by an Indianapolis law firm is the largest legal action to arise so far from the collapse of a concert stage at the Indiana State Fair.

The 18-page tort notice, filed Aug. 22 by Cohen & Malad, claims the state of Indiana and several other parties, including two businesses, were negligent in their handling of the Aug. 13 event and in failing to ensure the safety of the stage.

The incident claimed the lives of seven people and injured dozens of others who were at the fair to watch a concert by country-music group Sugarland.

Class actions typically are filed by attorneys who bring a claim on behalf of at least 40 people.

“Here, you’ve got hundreds,” Irwin Levin, managing partner at Cohen & Malad, told IBJ. “There are so many people who were there and hit by debris – some injured seriously and some with just emotional damage.”

Levin said his firm is waiving any fee it might earn from the lawsuit in order to maximize the limited amount of funds recoverable from the state.

A state law limits individual damage claims against the state to $700,000 and overall claims to $5 million per event. The state, however, can waive the cap, and Levin said he will encourage it to do so.

The cap does not pertain to any private company that may be the target of a lawsuit.

Other state entities named are the Indiana State Fair Commission, Indiana State Police, and the Indiana Department of Homeland Security.

Besides the state, Cohen & Malad’s class action names Greenfield-based Mid-America Sound Corp., the company that installed the stage rigging, and Los Angeles-based Live Nation Worldwide Inc., the promoter of the Sugarland concert.

Cohen & Malad filed the class action in Marion Superior Court on behalf of Angela Fischer, an Indianapolis resident who attended the concert and continues to suffer emotional trauma, Levin said.

“She literally saw people die,” he said. “She saw injuries that were so graphic that we can’t even describe them in the complaint.”

Cohen & Malad has a national reputation for representing individuals in class-action lawsuits.

The class action follows another tort claim notice filed by the widow of a 49-year-old man killed by the falling stage.

Former Marion County Prosecutor Carl Brizzi, who is representing the family of Glenn Goodrich, said the family has filed the notice against the state regarding intent to file a lawsuit. The suit was not a class action.

Goodrich, a security worker employed by ESG Security who was working at the show, was critically injured in the incident and died hours later.

Other lawsuits have also been filed on behalf of other victims.•

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Originally published at IBJ.com, the website of the Indianapolis Business Journal, a sister publication of the Indiana Lawyer.
 

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  1. Frankly, it is tragic that you are even considering going to an expensive, unaccredited "law school." It is extremely difficult to get a job with a degree from a real school. If you are going to make the investment of time, money, and tears into law school, it should not be to a place that won't actually enable you to practice law when you graduate.

  2. As a lawyer who grew up in Fort Wayne (but went to a real law school), it is not that hard to find a mentor in the legal community without your school's assistance. One does not need to pay tens of thousands of dollars to go to an unaccredited legal diploma mill to get a mentor. Having a mentor means precisely nothing if you cannot get a job upon graduation, and considering that the legal job market is utterly terrible, these students from Indiana Tech are going to be adrift after graduation.

  3. 700,000 to 800,000 Americans are arrested for marijuana possession each year in the US. Do we need a new justice center if we decriminalize marijuana by having the City Council enact a $100 fine for marijuana possession and have the money go towards road repair?

  4. I am sorry to hear this.

  5. I tried a case in Judge Barker's court many years ago and I recall it vividly as a highlight of my career. I don't get in federal court very often but found myself back there again last Summer. We had both aged a bit but I must say she was just as I had remembered her. Authoritative, organized and yes, human ...with a good sense of humor. I also appreciated that even though we were dealing with difficult criminal cases, she treated my clients with dignity and understanding. My clients certainly respected her. Thanks for this nice article. Congratulations to Judge Barker for reaching another milestone in a remarkable career.

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