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Could it have been Avoided?: Six Indiana State Fair Attendees Die as a Result of Inadequate Inspection of Fair Stage

When we attend an entertainment event, normally we are thinking of how much fun the venue is likely to be. Whether or not the venue will be safe is normally the last thing on our minds. However, the tragic stage collapse that occurred at the Indiana State Fair on August 13, 2011 may change the way we all view entertainment venues.

See the collapse of the stage below:

As the result of the tragic deaths of 6 people, and the injuries sustained by several others, several lawsuits are being filed, including wrongful death suits, against the owners of the stage rigging structure, the agency that booked the show, and the owner of Ticket Master, the agency who sold the tickets for the show.

The attorney representing Janeen Beth Urschel, who survived the stage collapse, and the estate of her partner, Tammy VanDam, who was killed as a result to the collapse has filed suit against the three above mentioned event organizers seeking damages in excess of $60 million dollars, according to the Indianapolis Star. Kenneth J. Allen, the attorney representing Urschel in her negligence suit and the estate of VanDam in a wrongful death suit, claims that Urschel’s injuries and VanDam’s death were caused by a lack of due care on the part of the event organizers.

According to the LA Times, Allen contends that Mid-American Sound Corporation, the owners of the stage rigging structure, Live 360 Group, the agency that booked the show, and Live Nations Entertainment, owner of Ticket Master, are all liable for the injuries to his clients because they failed to take precautionary measures to insure that the stage was configured to meat safety and heath guidelines. Allen claims that these three companies were aware that the stage was not compliant with safety regulations, that it was overloaded at the time of collapse, and that inclement weather threatened the safety of patrons, but did nothing to remedy these situations. The complaint that Allen filed on behalf of Urschel and VanDam in the Indiana State court alleges that the event organizers “did not reasonably exercise due care in the design, set-up, configuration, layout and construction of the concert stage area.”

In the light of the complaint filed by Allen, as well as the others that have been, or will be filed on behalf of other victims of this tragedy, the questions raised are: Could this tragedy have been avoided? and Are the organizers of the event responsible for this tragedy? Two firms have been hired to answer these questions, Thornton Tornaseth out of New York and Witt Associates out of Washington, D.C. The New York firm will be examining the stage rigging wreckage for clues regarding what lead to the collapse. The D.C. firm will be examining all other aspects that could have led to the tragedy. After these two firms complete their investigations it will be determined whether officials and event organizers responded appropriately to the threats posed by inclement weather and poor stage design, the factors that ultimately led to the collapse of the stage.

As a personal injury attorney who represents those who have suffered injury or death as the result of the negligence of others, it is my sincerest hope that if these event organizers are deemed to be responsible for the tragedy, that all of the resulting victims receive the justice and compensation they deserve.