Statement as issued Wednesday by the Indiana Attorney General’s Office:
INDIANAPOLIS – At the request of numerous claimants in the Indiana State Fair tragedy, the deadline to respond to a combined public-private $13.2 million settlement offer has been extended to August 1.
Attorneys for the claimants requested additional time to consider the $7.2 million private portion of the proposed settlement package and verify information.
The Indiana Attorney General’s Office – which helped facilitate the $7.2 million private settlement offer to add to the $6 million supplement the state is offering claimants – agreed to extend the original July 13 deadline to August 1, so that claimants can obtain more information and decide if they want to participate.
“This settlement offer is structured to put victims first by offering them more than double the original state funds on an accelerated basis. The additional time requested by the claimants to consider the settlement offer is appropriate in this circumstance,” Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller said.
The Attorney General’s Office has distributed settlement offer paperwork – including claim forms, release agreements and detailed instructions – to claimants who previously submitted tort claims concerning last summer’s stage rigging collapse at the Indiana State Fair.
Under a law the Indiana Legislature recently passed, House Enrolled Act 1376, a total $6 million in additional state funds are offered to the estates of the seven people who died in the stage-rigging collapse, as well as to those injured and those with permanent paralysis or permanent injuries. The Indiana Legislature directed how and when those public funds must be paid, setting a deadline of January 2013 for the Attorney General’s Office to distribute the $6 million through an arbitration process.
Meanwhile, two private companies named as defendants in lawsuits some claimants have filed, Mid-America Sound Corporation and James Thomas Engineering Inc., recently offered their own private funds, a total $7.2 million, with the condition that claimants release them from liability. Their offer is contingent on a sufficient number of claimants agreeing to the private settlement by the deadline, which has now been extended by agreement to August 1. After that, the companies have a two-week review period until August 15 to determine if conditions are met in order to proceed with their tendered offer.
To accept the combined supplemental state funds and private settlement, claimants must sign an agreement releasing the state from any claim of indemnification and releasing the two companies from liability. Claimants have the right to decline the combined settlement offer and pursue litigation against the two companies in court if they wish; but that could take years and there is no guarantee of payment at the end of a lawsuit. The combined state and private settlement offer is intended to expedite payments to claimants who have indicated they have immediate medical and financial needs. Claimants also are free to continue to pursue litigation against other parties not involved in the settlement offer.
If offers are accepted, that starts the arbitration process to calculate payment amounts. Claimants with questions about the settlement offer should contact their attorneys or the Indiana Attorney General’s Office at Rhonda.Burris@atg.in.gov or at 317.232.4866.
The $6 million in supplemental state funding and $7.2 million private settlement is in addition to the tort claim funds the state previously paid claimants in December – $5 million, the maximum allowed under the tort claim cap – relating to the August 13, 2011, stage-rigging collapse at the State Fair.
More information about the settlement process is at this link: