Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Zoeller's Forced State Fair Stage Collapse Settlement Rejected By Mid-America

Well, this takes the cake. First, Attorney General Greg Zoeller offered the victims of last year's tragic State Fair stage collapse a take it or leave it deal that required the victims to accept a $7.2 million settlement offered by Mid-America Sound Corporation and Thomas Engineering as a condition to the payment of an additional $6 million appropriated by the state legislature above the $5 million the victims were allowed to recover under Indiana's tort claim act. After the deadline passed for accepting the deal, we learned that Mid-America Sound had slipped an indemnity clause into invoices it submitted to State Fair officials after last year's tragedy, which it claimed legally made the state responsible for its liabilities in the event claimants were successful in their lawsuits against the company. The Attorney General's office said it didn't want to take a chance that Mid-America might prevail in court; however, Indiana law seems pretty clear that the company could not have shifted that liability to the state. Now we learn that Mid-America has reneged on the settlement deal because, although 51 of the 62 claimants accepted the deal, the victims not accepting the deal  (namely, the families of the deceased) represented a disproportionate amount of the potential liability the company faced. From WRTV:
Mid-America Sound Corporation, which constructed the stage that collapsed before an Aug. 13, 2011, concert killing seven people and injuring dozens more, said that minimum participation requirements specified by the state were not met by Wednesday's deadline.
"The state's proposal required a sufficient ratio of claimants from the largest claims categories to accept the settlement in order for it to become effective," Myra Borshoff Cook, spokeswoman for Mid-America Sound, said in a statement . . .
"Mid-America Sound Corporation is hopeful that future efforts seeking to resolve the claims associated with the tragic events of Aug. 13, 2011, are successful to bring full and satisfactory resolution to the claims now pending," Borshoff Cook said.
The attorney general's office had not returned calls for comment Thursday.
The Attorney General's office will now proceed to distribute the additional $6 million to all of the claimants as it would have done before Zoeller brokered the agreement with Mid-America.

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