Sugarland‘s legal team and management have responded to claims of negligence filed against them in a civil lawsuit related to the Indiana State Fair stage collapse last summer, reports USA Today. Victims filed the lawsuit on November 22 in Marion Superior Court, claiming negligence on the part of Sugarland and other companies contributed to the tragedy.
Seven people were killed and more than 50 were injured when a gust of wind brought down the stage on August 13, 2011, moments before Sugarland was scheduled to perform. The lawsuit alleges that Sugarland and companies neglected to build a secure stage and failed to monitor deteriorating weather conditions, saying the show should have been canceled and the crowd evacuated as conditions worsened.
In response to the lawsuit, Sugarland’s lawyers claim the stage collapse was the result of “gust of wind of unprecedented intensity” and was “a true accident, or act of God.” They stated they “had nothing to do with the construction of the venue” which was handled by fair officials and Mid-America Sound Corp. They said the plaintiff’s claims were caused by “an open and obvious danger” and that some or all of their injuries “resulted from their own fault.”
Sugarland named Indiana State Fair officials, Indiana State Police, and members of the labor union who helped construct the stage and the state of Indiana as partly responsible for the tragedy. They also denied that the band had supervisory authority over the stage setup.
“Lucky Star Inc. (the band’s ownership company) did not have any control over the size of the stage nor the public address system, as this was all provided for by the Indiana Fair Board,” Sugarland’s lawyers said in the response.
The Indiana Occupational Safety and Health Administration found that the stage scaffolding was not properly erected and that Mid-America had not inspected the rigging during its construction of after it was erected, according to a report released February 8. The agency issued more than $80,000 in fines. Mid-America has criticized the report.
Additional defendants in the lawsuit include Live Nation, ESG Security, the stagehands’ union and other companies involved with Sugarland’s concert. The lawsuit asks the court to award damages and attorneys’ fees.
While the duo has not issued a public statement, their manager, Gail Gellman, posted this statement from their management team on the band’s website:
“Sadly when a tragedy occurs, people want to point fingers and try to sensationalize the disaster. The single most important thing to Sugarland, are their fans. Their support and love over the past 9 years has been unmatched. For anyone to think otherwise is completely devastating to them.”