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Zoeller: Most claimants agree to State Fair settlement

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More than 80 percent of victims who sued after the State Fair stage collapse last year say they want to participate in the $13.2 million public-private settlement negotiated between the Indiana attorney general’s office and two defendant companies, the AG’s office said Thursday.

Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller said in a statement that 51 of 62 eligible claimants indicated by the Aug. 1 deadline that they want to participate in the settlement package.
 
Mid-America Sound Corp. and James Thomas Engineering Inc. in June agreed to contribute $7.2 million to a settlement fund for victims that also included $6 million in state money approved for victim compensation by the Indiana General Assembly. The money is in addition to the state’s cap of $5 million per event.

Now the companies have through Aug. 15 to review the acceptance paperwork and determine if conditions are met to proceed with their tendered offer, according to Zoeller’s statement. The settlement is conditioned on a sufficient ratio of claimants from the largest claims category accepting it and releasing the two companies from liability.

Zoeller said the office would continue to accept mailed correspondence from claimants postmarked by Aug. 1, so the number accepting the settlement package could rise.

“This is an expedited and reasonable settlement that puts victims first and will provide for the immediate medical and financial needs now, rather than after waging lengthy and uncertain litigation,” Zoeller said.

If the companies’ criteria are met for the private settlement, arbitration hearings will take place in September to calculate the precise amounts that participating claimants will receive, based on medical costs and other data, the statement said.

“We respect the right of the few claimants who may decide to turn down the settlement, but it is important to move forward so that the vast majority get immediate relief,” Zoeller said.

According to the statement, the General Assembly specified how much certain categories of claimants will receive from the state’s portion:  Estates of the seven deceased will be increased from the $300,000 they received last year up to $700,000, the maximum allowed. Claimants with non-permanent injuries will have 100 percent of their out-of-pocket medical costs reimbursed out of the public money, on top of the 65 percent they were paid last year.

If the companies accept the size of the pool of claimants, arbitrators will designate the amounts for the injured claimants out of the public money as well as amounts for all categories of claimants out of the separate pool of private money, Zoeller said in a statement.

 

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