State pays another $6 million to State Fair stage collapse victims

December 20th, 2012 at 4:36 pm by under Jim Shella's Political Blog

Indianapolis– (WISH) Settlements totaling $6 million are now on the way to the families of the 7 people killed in the 2011 State Fair stage collapse and to more than 50 of the people who were injured.

A state liability cap originally limited the state’s ability to pay damages to a total of $5 million.  Lawmakers voted to contribute another $6 million earlier this year and today the Attorney General explained where it’s going.  Brad Humphrey, who was paralyzed by injuries received at the the ill-fated Sugarland concert, testified at a state Senate hearing in February that led to today’s payments.  “I think of my life now as before Sugarland,” he said then, “and after Sugarland.”

Humphrey now faces medical bills of up to $5 million.  He got the biggest share of the supplemental settlement, over $630,000 for a total of $1.1 million.  Andrea Vellinga, who also has permanent injuries, gets over $430,000 to bring her total to $885,000.  Families of the 7 who died in the stage collapse receive amounts that bring their totals to $700,000 in each case.

The Attorney General announced the payments in advance of a January deadline and just 16 months after the tragic accident.  “The payments have begun going out today,” said Greg Zoeller, “both wire transfers and in the mail.”

“This is light-speed compared to traditional litigation,” said arbitrator Bill Braten.  But while government officials talk about how fast this was done, Brad Humprhey’s attorney, Scott Montross, says the payments are woefully inadequate.
It’s the same concern Humphrey’s mother expressed at that February hearing.  “I worry his injuries will affect his earning capacity over his lifetime,” said Sue Humphrey.  “Brad will require some type of assistance every day for the rest of his life.”

Paul Kruse, an attorney for 10 victims of the stage collapse, agrees with Montross.  He says the payments are very significant and appreciated, but he says there are just not enough resources available to balance the scales in this case.   Private lawsuits are pending.


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