Stage Victims Await Payment

Victims of the deadly stage collapse at last year’s Indiana State Fair are still waiting to collect $6 million state lawmakers approved for them nearly two months after Gov. Mitch Daniels approved the payments.

The Indiana attorney general’s office has notified claimants that they will have to go through a process different than the one initially used to distribute $5 million, which was the maximum allowed under the state’s liability cap.

Lawmakers in March approved the additional $6 million for those injured and the families of the seven people killed when high winds sent stage rigging plunging into a crowd of fans waiting for an Aug. 13 performance by country duo Sugarland.

The attorney general’s office said in an email to claimants that it is trying to find an “an efficient and respectful way” to distribute the money while limiting lawsuits, Indianapolis television station WTHR reported.

State officials said the previous model used for claims against the initial $5 million won’t work because lawmakers approved specific payouts. The families of the seven people who died received $300,000 from the $5 million in December. The new law allows them to get another $400,000 each to bring their total to the maximum $700,000 allowed under Indiana law.

Those who suffered non-permanent physical injuries are to get 100 percent of their out-of-pocket medical costs paid. Previously, the state reimbursed just 65 percent of their medical bills. Those who suffered permanent paralysis or physical trauma could have their amounts determined through arbitration.

That group includes Brad Humphrey, a former tennis standout at Crispus Attucks High School in Indianapolis who was paralyzed in the collapse.

“It’s been rough on him. One day he’s walking, one day he ain’t, especially his last year of high school. But he ain’t giving up,” said Bart Humphrey, the teen’s grandfather.

Humphrey’s initial payout in December was just more than $500,000. Now, his family must decide whether to try to strike another deal.

Humphrey’s attorney, Scott Montrose, said the additional money is inadequate.

State Rep. Ed Delaney, D-Indianapolis, who pushed for additional payments to victims, said he is monitoring the process but thinks the state is doing less than it should.