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Indiana Fair stage collapse legal claims reach 100

November 2, 2011

The deadline for victims of the deadly Indiana State Fair stage collapse to file legal claims with the state has passed, and officials say they're close to figuring out how much to pay each victim out of the allotted $5 million.

Tuesday was the deadline to submit tort claims, and the attorney general's office said it had received 100 by Wednesday. Officials said in an emailed update that they'll still accept more by mail as long as they were postmarked by Tuesday.

The 100 claims cover everything from death of loved ones and serious injuries to emotional distress.

The attorney general's office has been working with victims' compensation specialist Kenneth Feinberg and claimants' lawyers to develop a system for paying out awards on the claims, and agency spokesman Bryan Corbin said officials are close to completing it. But individuals can collect no more than $700,000, and state law limits the total pool of money to $5 million. The attorney general's office has said that families of people who died and those who were seriously injured will get priority.

The tort claim fund isn't the only option. A separate State Fair Relief Fund to help victims will accept claims until Nov. 14. It consists of donations to help victims who were hospitalized as a result of the collapse.

Attorneys also are considering lawsuits against others involved in the scheduled Aug. 13 Sugarland concert, including the band and the company that made the stage. A gust of wind toppled the stage rigging onto the crowd as the band was preparing to take the stage, killing seven people and injuring more than 40 others.

"There's not just one pocket here," said Karen Celestino-Horseman, who represents a stagehand who sustained back and head injuries in the collapse.

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