Two Defendants in State Fair Lawsuits Offer $7.2M Settlement
Victims would have to take deal to collect part of additional $6M from state
Two defendants in the lawsuits over the State Fair stage collapse are offering a $7.2 million settlement fund to victims who agree to drop their lawsuits.
Legislators voted this year to more than double the state's cap on its own liability, setting aside an extra $6 million for the most seriously injured victims. But Attorney General Greg Zoeller says victims who want part of that money will have to accept the settlement with Mid-America Sound and Thomas Engineering.
Zoeller says at least some plaintiffs have indicated interest. He says the state has invited other defendants to establish a similar arrangement.
The legislature specified an additional $400,000 for the families of each of the seven people killed in the collapse. That would bring them to the $700,000 maximum under state law. Other victims would have until July 13 to apply for a share of the combined fund. Zoeller says attorneys on both sides have agreed to an arbitration panel which would determine exact dollar amounts by the end of August for those who accept the offer. Unlike the $11 million the state has paid, the money posted by Mid-America and Thomas would be available to people who claim only emotional distress, with exact amounts to be determined by the arbitrators.
If not enough victims accept, Zoeller says the state could revert to the formula spelled out by the legislature.
Merrillville attorney Kenneth J. Allen, who's representing several of the victims, says his clients won't take the offer. He accuses Zoeller of trying to protect private companies. Zoeller says he's just trying to get money to victims more quickly. He notes most lawsuits eventually end in settlements anyway.