Stage collapse victims accept settlement | WBEZ
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Indiana settles with most stage collapse victims

Nearly all of the 65 people who were injured at last summer’s Indiana State Fair when a stage collapsed has accepted the state’s settlement offer.

Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller said 64 people who were injured will share in the settlements totally $5-million, the maximum allowed under state law.

One offer was rejected. That was for about $1,800 for a minor who was injured.

Zoeller said it was difficult to decide how much to give each victim.

"We did all that was possible to treat victims fairly and to assist them with their medical and financial needs, at least within the amount the law allows,” Zoeller said Monday.

Seven people died in the Aug. 13 state collapse including two from the Chicago area.

Christina Santiago, 31, of Chicago, was the manager for the Lesbian Community Care Project at the Howard Brown Health Center in Chicago. Tammy Vandam, a 42-year-old mother from the town of Wanatah in Northwest Indiana, also died.

The estates of all seven accepted Indiana’s offer of $300,000 each.

Investigators say high winds toppled the stage before the country group Sugarland was set to perform.

Zoeller’s office worked with nationally-known expert Kenneth Feinberg, who administered victim compensation programs after 9-11 and the BP Gulf oil spill.

The Indiana Attorney General’s office also worked with JWF Specialty Company to receive and review 114 claims to obtain additional medical documentation.

“By accepting offers, claimants sign settlement documents releasing the State of Indiana from future liability but does not prevent claimants from pursuing separate legal actions against other private entities over the stage rigging collapse,” according to Zoeller’s press secretary Bryan Corbin in a news release. “During the process of calculating settlement offers, the Attorney General’s Office participated in mediation with a group of approximately 30 attorneys and law firms representing many claimants and reached tentative accord on the protocol. Settlement offers are with the consent of the Governor’s Office.”

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