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Sugarland wants to delay stage testimony until May

March 21, 2012

Jennifer Nettles and Kristian Bush of the country duo Sugarland want to wait until May to give depositions in lawsuits over a stage collapse at the Indiana State Fair because they're preparing to tour, their attorney argued in court motions filed Wednesday.

The motions filed in an Indianapolis court seek to quash a request that they provide the depositions early next week to attorneys for the company that built the stage rigging involved in the collapse in which seven people died and dozens more were injured.

Sugarland spokesman Allan Mayer says Nettles and Bush aren't refusing to give depositions.

"They are simply refusing to be bullied into doing so on short notice without sufficient time to prepare. They and we very much share in the anguish of all those touched by this terrible tragedy, but no one's interests are served by trying to short-circuit the legal process," Mayer said in a statement.

He added that the band is getting ready for a five-month tour that starts next month.

A judge has scheduled a Friday hearing on a request by attorneys for Mid-America Sound Corp. to compel the depositions next week by Nettles, Bush and the duo's ownership company, Lucky Star Inc. Mid-America built the roof and rigging used to hold lights and sound equipment that collapsed Aug. 13 before a scheduled Sugarland concert.

Mid-America is being sued by the estates of three of the people who died and three people who were injured.

Sugarland's attorneys have called the high winds that toppled the stage rigging an "act of God" and denied the band had any responsibility for the stage construction or to warn fans.

However, Indiana State Fair Commission Executive Director Cindy Hoye testified in a Jan. 16 deposition that Sugarland resisted delaying the start of the concert despite threatening weather. Hoye said the band expressed concerns about how a delay would affect the time Nettles, the lead singer, needed to warm up and complicate the duo's travel to its next show.

A message seeking comment was left for an attorney for Mid-America.

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