Another lawsuit filed in Indiana fair stage collapse

Back to TopCommentsE-mailPrintBookmark and Share

 The family of a Fort Wayne woman killed when a stage collapsed in strong wind at the Indiana State Fair filed a lawsuit Monday alleging gross negligence and recklessness by the promoters and producers of the concert.

The lawsuit was filed in Marion Superior Court on behalf of the estate of 23-year-old Alina Bigjohny and her parents, Robert and Polly Bigjohny. The Indianapolis Star reported the lawsuit contends fair and concert organizers failed to warn fans waiting for country band Sugarland to perform of an approaching storm. The stage rigging collapsed into the crowd following a 60- to 70-mph wind gust.

"Without question there was gross negligence on many levels, from the state of Indiana on down," attorney Kenneth J. Allen of Valparaiso said at a news conference Monday. "Multiple entities had the opportunity to prevent this occurrence, to prevent these people from losing their lives and being harmed in the way they've been harmed."

Bigjohny was a 2011 Manchester College graduate who was recently hired to teach seventh-grade English in Muncie. She attended the concert with a friend, Jennifer Haskell, who died of her injuries six days after the Aug. 13 collapse that killed seven people.

Among those named in the lawsuit were Mid-America Sound Corp., Lucas Entertainment Group LLC, Live 630 Group, Live Nation Touring and ESG Security. Linda Jackson, a spokeswoman for Mid-America, said the company had no comment.

Joe Robinson, chief executive officer of ESG Security Inc., said he was surprised his company was named in the lawsuit.

"We absolutely had nothing to do with the decision-making process of whether the concert was to go on or not," he told The Associated Press.

The AP left messages seeking comment Monday at the offices of the other companies named in the lawsuit.

Allen also has filed a lawsuit on behalf of the family of 42-year-old Tammy VanDam of Wanatah, who was killed, and her same-sex partner, who was injured.

LaPorte County Judge Thomas Alevizos ordered the state last week to preserve the wreckage from the collapse as evidence. Alevizos also issued an order for the state to follow the protocols put forth by the engineering firm the state has hired to investigate the collapse.

Former Marion County prosecutor Carl Brizzi has filed a notice with the state that he will be seeking damages for the family of Glenn Goodrich of Indianapolis, a 49-year-old security guard killed by the collapse.

Indianapolis law firm Cohen & Malad is seeking class-action status for a lawsuit filed in Marion County Superior Court against the state and companies involved in putting on the concert.

But on Monday Indiana's attorney general asked a Marion County judge to dismiss that suit, which was filed on behalf of Indianapolis resident Angela Fischer, who says she was emotionally traumatized by the deadly accident.

Attorney General Greg Zoeller said the law firm failed to follow the legal process in suing. He said Fischer's lawyers notified his office with a tort claim Aug. 22 of their plans to sue the state, and then filed suit the same day.

Zoeller said Indiana law declares the state cannot be sued until it has had 90 days to review and approve or deny a tort claim.

"This is not a reflection on the plaintiff's claim, but there are deadlines and a process that must be followed under Indiana law. We can't have one claimant try to cut in line when other claimants are following the rules," Zoeller said in a statement.


  • agreed
    Tragic tragic. 50mill a bit excessive, and the money will not bring them back.

    the results will be when there is a chance of rain the only decision is to cancell a concert.
  • Seriously?!?!
    This is a joke! $50M asking price? This family is simply out to get rich off of their relatives death. Tragic as it is, it was an act of weather, not irresponsible fair organizers. All medical and funeral costs should be covered and a small amount provided for recovery and adjustment, but $50M is greed and attaches a stigma to this innocent persons name!

    Post a comment to this story

    We reserve the right to remove any post that we feel is obscene, profane, vulgar, racist, sexually explicit, abusive, or hateful.
    You are legally responsible for what you post and your anonymity is not guaranteed.
    Posts that insult, defame, threaten, harass or abuse other readers or people mentioned in IBJ editorial content are also subject to removal. Please respect the privacy of individuals and refrain from posting personal information.
    No solicitations, spamming or advertisements are allowed. Readers may post links to other informational websites that are relevant to the topic at hand, but please do not link to objectionable material.
    We may remove messages that are unrelated to the topic, encourage illegal activity, use all capital letters or are unreadable.

    Messages that are flagged by readers as objectionable will be reviewed and may or may not be removed. Please do not flag a post simply because you disagree with it.

    Sponsored by

    facebook - twitter on Facebook & Twitter

    Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ on Facebook:
    Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ's Tweets on these topics:
    Subscribe to IBJ
    1. I am not by any means judging whether this is a good or bad project. It's pretty simple, the developers are not showing a hardship or need for this economic incentive. It is a vacant field, the easiest for development, and the developer already has the money to invest $26 million for construction. If they can afford that, they can afford to pay property taxes just like the rest of the residents do. As well, an average of $15/hour is an absolute joke in terms of economic development. Get in high paying jobs and maybe there's a different story. But that's the problem with this ask, it is speculative and users are just not known.

    2. Shouldn't this be a museum

    3. I don't have a problem with higher taxes, since it is obvious that our city is not adequately funded. And Ballard doesn't want to admit it, but he has increased taxes indirectly by 1) selling assets and spending the money, 2) letting now private entities increase user fees which were previously capped, 3) by spending reserves, and 4) by heavy dependence on TIFs. At the end, these are all indirect tax increases since someone will eventually have to pay for them. It's mathematics. You put property tax caps ("tax cut"), but you don't cut expenditures (justifiably so), so you increase taxes indirectly.

    4. Marijuana is the safest natural drug grown. Addiction is never physical. Marijuana health benefits are far more reaching then synthesized drugs. Abbott, Lilly, and the thousands of others create poisons and label them as medication. There is no current manufactured drug on the market that does not pose immediate and long term threat to the human anatomy. Certainly the potency of marijuana has increased by hybrids and growing techniques. However, Alcohol has been proven to destroy more families, relationships, cause more deaths and injuries in addition to the damage done to the body. Many confrontations such as domestic violence and other crimes can be attributed to alcohol. The criminal activities and injustices that surround marijuana exists because it is illegal in much of the world. If legalized throughout the world you would see a dramatic decrease in such activities and a savings to many countries for legal prosecutions, incarceration etc in regards to marijuana. It indeed can create wealth for the government by collecting taxes, creating jobs, etc.... I personally do not partake. I do hope it is legalized throughout the world.

    5. Build the resevoir. If built this will provide jobs and a reason to visit Anderson. The city needs to do something to differentiate itself from other cities in the area. Kudos to people with vision that are backing this project.