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Ind. State Fair Victims Agree to Split $13.2M

By Andrew Chow, Esq. on August 07, 2012 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

An Indiana State Fair settlement could allow victims of last summer's Sugarland stage collapse to split a proposed $13.2 million payout, the Associated Press reports.

As of last week, 51 of 62 victims or their survivors had accepted the public-private settlement offer, according to the AP. But not everyone was happy with it.

As with many settlements, claimants faced a significant legal choice in whether to accept the Indiana State Fair settlement offer.

The Sugarland stage collapse settlement must still be approved by a court. If approved, those who agreed to it would receive a share of $6 million from the state of Indiana, which operates the State Fair Commission, and $7.2 million from two companies, the AP reports.

Those companies manufactured and set up the roof over the outdoor stage that collapsed under gusty winds Aug. 13, 2011. Seven people were killed and dozens more were hurt.

Claimants who agree to settle will no longer be able to hold those companies liable for any wrongdoing, the AP reports. One law professor called the offer “woefully inadequate,” as the victims could potentially win more in a jury trial.

But that’s not guaranteed, especially because of how liability insurance works. The companies offering to settle “are contributing almost their entire policy limits,” an attorney for one victim’s widow told the AP. That means there’s “a chance that the funds will be exhausted after the participating plaintiffs settle.”

Other factors to consider in accepting a settlement offer include the time, money, and effort needed to pursue a trial, and the uncertainty of a jury verdict.

The proposed Indiana State Fair settlement for Sugarland stage collapse victims must be accepted by a certain number of claimants by Aug. 15 in order to move forward, the AP reports. But the number of claimants needed is being kept confidential.

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