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Settlement adds $7.2 million for State Fair stage collapse victims

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Two defendants in lawsuits over the Indiana State Fair stage collapse that killed seven and injured dozens have agreed to add $7.2 million to money the state has already distributed or appropriated, Attorney General Greg Zoeller announced Friday.

Mid-America Sound and James Thomas Engineering offered the additional money to victims after mediation with plaintiff attorneys and Zoeller’s office, he said at a news conference. The money is in addition to $5 million the state provided, reaching the tort claim cap, and a $6 million one-time supplement the General Assembly approved during the 2012 legislative session.

In a news release, Zoeller said the private money will be paid upon collective support among a “sufficient” number of the 62 plaintiffs, and the additional state funds will be distributed by year’s end as the Legislature required.

Claimants who want to participate in the additional compensation – both public and private dollars – must sign a form releasing Mid-America and James Thomas Engineering from any liability and releasing the state from any legal obligations, the AG’s office said.

“This is about putting the victims first. The state's role to assist victims of the State Fair tragedy did not end when we paid out the original $5 million maximum from the tort claim fund in December. We know that claimants need additional financial help now and they can’t wait for years, so with the Legislature’s support and direction we designed a process where they can tap into additional funds. We want to provide these supplemental dollars in a prompt, equitable and respectful manner,” Zoeller said.

Zoeller declined to discuss elements of mediation that led to the settlement, but said his office also has been in mediation with additional defendants. But he said defendants and plaintiffs collaborated in “an expedited process like I’ve never seen before.”

The state’s supplemental $6 million appropriation includes an additional $400,000 that will be paid to the estates of the seven victims who died waiting for last summer’s Sugarland concert. That disbursement will bring compensation in each of those cases to the $700,000 individual tort cap.

That will leave $3.3 million of the state’s supplemental relief, which, combined with the private companies’ settlement, will leave $10.5 million that will be distributed to victims through a three-member arbitration panel.

Zoeller said that if victims were unsatisfied with the settlement, they retained the ability to bring suit against Mid-America Sound and James Thomas Engineering.

Zoeller said the settlement will curtail what could have been years of litigation that likely would have involved a future settlement. His office continues to talk with other defendants in stage collapse litigation.

“We’re not going to walk away on this,” he said.

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  1. From his recent appearance on WRTV to this story here, Frank is everywhere. Couldn't happen to a nicer guy, although he should stop using Eric Schnauffer for his 7th Circuit briefs. They're not THAT hard.

  2. They learn our language prior to coming here. My grandparents who came over on the boat, had to learn English and become familiarize with Americas customs and culture. They are in our land now, speak ENGLISH!!

  3. @ Rebecca D Fell, I am very sorry for your loss. I think it gives the family solace and a bit of closure to go to a road side memorial. Those that oppose them probably did not experience the loss of a child or a loved one.

  4. If it were your child that died maybe you'd be more understanding. Most of us don't have graves to visit. My son was killed on a state road and I will be putting up a memorial where he died. It gives us a sense of peace to be at the location he took his last breath. Some people should be more understanding of that.

  5. Can we please take notice of the connection between the declining state of families across the United States and the RISE OF CPS INVOLVEMENT??? They call themselves "advocates" for "children's rights", however, statistics show those children whom are taken from, even NEGLIGENT homes are LESS likely to become successful, independent adults!!! Not to mention the undeniable lack of respect and lack of responsibility of the children being raised today vs the way we were raised 20 years ago, when families still existed. I was born in 1981 and I didn't even ever hear the term "CPS", in fact, I didn't even know they existed until about ten years ago... Now our children have disagreements between friends and they actually THREATEN EACH OTHER WITH, "I'll call CPS" or "I'll have [my parent] (usually singular) call CPS"!!!! And the truth is, no parent is perfect and we all have flaws and make mistakes, but it is RIGHTFULLY OURS - BY THE CONSTITUTION OF THIS GREAT NATION - to be imperfect. Let's take a good look at what kind of parenting those that are stealing our children are doing, what kind of adults are they producing? WHAT ACTUALLY HAPPENS TO THE CHILDREN THAT HAVE BEEN RIPPED FROM THEIR FAMILY AND THAT CHILD'S SUCCESS - or otherwise - AS AN ADULT.....

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