The Indiana Attorney General is providing more money for victims of the State Fair stage collapse, but there’s a catch.
In December, the state gave $5 million to state fair victims under its tort claims cap. Last legislative session, the General Assembly allocated an additional $6 million for victim relief.
When announcing the distribution of that $6million Friday, Attorney General Greg Zoeller included an extra $7.2 million in private settlement funds from two defendants in the stage collapse lawsuits. But to get any of the money, either private or public, the victims will have to waive their right to sue or continue suits against the two defendants, Mid-America Sound Corporation and James Thomas Engineering.
“This just provides an opportunity to do something today that, again, it would be years and years of litigation,” Zoeller says.
Kenneth Allen represents several of the victims. He says Zoeller has devised an unconstitutional scheme to shield the companies from greater damages.
“I am shocked that the state of Indiana would even consider using its coffers, our coffers as taxpayers, to protect private companies,” he says.
Zoeller says if not enough victims accept the settlement offers by the July 13 deadline, the state will distribute the $6 million in public funds separately and not require the victims to waive their right to sue the private firms.