IBJNews

Attorney general ties $6M for fair victims to private settlement

Back to TopCommentsE-mailPrintBookmark and Share

Attorney General Greg Zoeller has tentatively linked $6 million for victims of the Indiana State Fair stage collapse to a settlement offer from two of the companies involved in the incident, which killed 7 people.

Zoeller proposed a deal Friday in which fair victims would get a piece of the recently allotted $6 million only if they agree to clear Mid America Sound and James Thomas Engineering, Inc., of any wrongdoing. In return, they will also see a portion of $7.2 million the companies are offering.

He said the offer expires July 13, and if too few plaintiffs agree to the terms, he would free up the state money to be distributed without the connection to the private settlement.

Last year, the state paid out $5 million to victims, the maximum allowed by state law, with the help of national victim claims expert Kenneth Feinberg. Lawmakers approved the additional $6 million for the victims earlier this year amid a push by Democrats to increase the state payout cap.

During a press conference, Zoeller repeatedly called the offer an "opportunity" for victims to get money sooner than they would if they battled in court.

Zoeller declined to offer specific details, such as which plaintiffs were agreeable to the trade-off and whether the state had approached the two companies or the companies sought help.

"At this stage we have at least two (parties), the private defendants, that are willing to participate," Zoeller said. "I think we're hopeful, having spoken to the lawyers for the plaintiffs, the victims, that we'll have some participation, but it's yet to be seen," Zoeller said.

Attorney Kenneth J. Allen says Zoeller's plan seems like a "payoff" to protect the companies. Allen represents the families of three people who died in last August's incident, as well as others who were injured.

He said Zoeller's proposal blatantly "ties the hands" of the victims.

"It sure sounds to me like the state is attempting to provide special protection to these private corporations, and that is forbidden under our state constitution," Allen said.

House Ways and Means chairman Jeff Espich, R-Uniondale, pushed through the additional state money earlier this year. When lawmakers were debating the additional money they never talked about including Mid America Sound, James Thomas Engineering or any other private interest in the state's offer.

"The private settlement is none of our business, in my mind," he said.

ADVERTISEMENT

  • NOT Frank Abagnale
    This person is NOT Frank Abagnale.
  • Huh?
    On what planet does the AG have the authority to do that?
  • Quality Politician He is
    Sounds like EXTORTION by the AG. Is that what the legislature told Zoeller to do? THIS IS ABUSE OF POWER. What a dirtbag.

    Post a comment to this story

    COMMENTS POLICY
    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
    ADVERTISEMENT

    facebook - twitter on Facebook & Twitter

    Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ on Facebook:
    Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ's Tweets on these topics:
     
    Subscribe to IBJ
    1. The $104K to CRC would go toward debts service on $486M of existing debt they already have from other things outside this project. Keystone buys the bonds for 3.8M from CRC, and CRC in turn pays for the parking and site work, and some time later CRC buys them back (with interest) from the projected annual property tax revenue from the entire TIF district (est. $415K / yr. from just this property, plus more from all the other property in the TIF district), which in theory would be about a 10-year term, give-or-take. CRC is basically betting on the future, that property values will increase, driving up the tax revenue to the limit of the annual increase cap on commercial property (I think that's 3%). It should be noted that Keystone can't print money (unlike the Federal Treasury) so commercial property tax can only come from consumers, in this case the apartment renters and consumers of the goods and services offered by the ground floor retailers, and employees in the form of lower non-mandatory compensation items, such as bonuses, benefits, 401K match, etc.

    2. $3B would hurt Lilly's bottom line if there were no insurance or Indemnity Agreement, but there is no way that large an award will be upheld on appeal. What's surprising is that the trial judge refused to reduce it. She must have thought there was evidence of a flagrant, unconscionable coverup and wanted to send a message.

    3. As a self-employed individual, I always saw outrageous price increases every year in a health insurance plan with preexisting condition costs -- something most employed groups never had to worry about. With spouse, I saw ALL Indiana "free market answer" plans' premiums raise 25%-45% each year.

    4. It's not who you chose to build it's how they build it. Architects and engineers decide how and what to use to build. builders just do the work. Architects & engineers still think the tarp over the escalators out at airport will hold for third time when it snows, ice storms.

    5. http://www.abcactionnews.com/news/duke-energy-customers-angry-about-money-for-nothing

    ADVERTISEMENT