A complicated personal injury case involving a deadly stage collapse at the Indiana State Fair is inching closer to reconciliation as more and more potential claimants agree to a settlement package proposed by the State and the two companies responsible for the stage. According to the Star Tribune, 51 of 62 victims or beneficiaries have agreed to the modified proposal.
The proposal calls for $13.2 million to be split among all of the parties that are seeking a claim in this case. That figure is reportedly lower than some personal injury attorneys might seek at trial, but of course a settlement is a guaranteed amount of money, while taking the case to court is a risk. That figure includes $7.2 million that will be contributed by two companies that were responsible for the stage construction, as well as an additional $6 million contributed by the state of Indiana.
Another reason that potential claimants might be hesitant to take this case to trial is that the $7.2 million to be provided by the two companies will nearly exhaust their available funds for this type of payment. Even if a claimant were to seek more money by taking the case to trial, and the court were to rule in their favor, it may be difficult to recover those funds because the company simply might not have the ability to pay.
In August of 2011 the main stage at the State Fair was blown over by high winds, injuring many of the fair goers who were waiting for a Sugarland concert to begin. A strong storm system toppled the stage and it crashed down onto fans below. At least seven were killed as a result of the crash and dozens of others were seriously injured.
The $6 million dollars provided by the state of Indiana also ensures that anyone who accepted the settlement would be unable to sue for more money in the future. The money provided by owner and manufacturer of the stage equipment has a similar provision.
The state fair was just about a year ago, and organizers have moved the main concerts indoors in order to avoid any fear that may be associated with the event. It remains to be seen just how much this event will affect attendance of the fair this year and in the future.
This is a good example of a case that involves more than just what the client feels is owed to him. While most attorneys would agree that the payment being issued to the claimants is not quite at the level of what would be expected in a case like this, the funds that are being made available to the victims represents the full extent of available funds. While the victims may want more, there simply isn't any more to give.