At Least 14 Claims In Indiana Collapse
At least 14 people intend to sue over the Aug. 13 stage collapse at the Indiana State Fair that killed seven and injured dozens more, according to the state attorney general’s office.
That’s how many tort claims, or notices of intention to sue, have been received as of Sept. 2.
Two of the claims already reported are those filed by the families of Alina BigJohny and Tammy VanDam, both of whom died in the collapse shortly before Sugarland was scheduled to hit the stage. VanDam’s partner, Janeen Ursheel, also filed a claim Sept. 2.
Indiana is one of 33 states that cap state liability, with a maximum of $5 million per occurrence. Legislators are reportedly reconsidering the cap.
State Rep. Ed DeLaney of Indianapolis told the Indianapolis Star that he plans to introduce legislation that would allow state fair victims to collect more. He said he’s open to a number of possibilities, including creation of a one-time waiver.
“This is a place where we actively invited people to come, we chose not to regulate, and then we chose not to shut [the concert] down,” DeLaney told the paper. “Our role is so deep that we need to take care of our people.”
But his position is not shared by all in Indiana governance circles.
“I probably would not be in favor of that, not a general raising of the cap,” State Sen. Appropriations Committee Chairman Luke Kenley told the paper. “I think this is a call to arms by trial lawyers a little bit,” he said.
Kenley added it’s not yet clear if the state of Indiana has a liability in the disaster, and called the present $5 million pool “generous.”
Indiana’s cap is reportedly the highest among the 33 states that have them. The state caps the amount an individual can collect at $700,000. Kentucky has the lowest individual cap ceiling with a limit of $200,000 and a per-occurrence limit of $350,000. Florida’s per-occurrence limit is lower, at $300,000, but that can be exceeded with legislative approval.