Class-action lawsuit filed over State Fair tragedy

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A lawsuit seeking class-action status filed by an Indianapolis law firm is the largest legal action to arise so far from the collapse of a concert stage at the Indiana State Fair.

The 18-page tort notice, filed Monday by Cohen & Malad LLP, claims the state of Indiana and several other parties, including two businesses, were negligent in their handling of the Aug. 13 event and in failing to ensure the safety of the stage.

The incident claimed the lives of seven people and injured dozens of others who were at the fair to watch a concert by country-music group Sugarland.

Class actions typically are filed by attorneys who bring a claim on behalf of at least 40 people.

“Here, you’ve got hundreds,” Irwin Levin, managing partner at Cohen & Malad, told IBJ Tuesday morning. “There are so many people who were there and hit by debris—some injured seriously and some with just emotional damage.”

Levin said his firm is waiving any fee it might earn from the lawsuit in order to maximize the limited amount of funds recoverable from the state.

A state law limits individual damage claims against the state to $700,000 and overall claims to $5 million per event. The state, however, can waive the cap, and Levin said he will encourage it to do so.

The cap does not pertain to any private company that may be the target of a lawsuit.

Other state entities named are the Indiana State Fair Commission, Indiana State Police and the Indiana Department of Homeland Security.  

Besides the state, Cohen & Malad’s class action names Greenfield-based Mid-America Sound Corp., the company that installed the stage rigging, and Los Angeles-based Live Nation Worldwide Inc., the promoter of the Sugarland concert.

Cohen & Malad filed the class action in Marion Superior Court on behalf of Angela Fischer, an Indianapolis resident who attended the concert and continues to suffer emotional trauma, Levin said.

“She literally saw people die,” he said. “She saw injuries that were so graphic that we can’t even describe them in the complaint.”

Cohen & Malad has a national reputation for representing individuals in class-action lawsuits.

The class action follows another tort claim notice filed by the widow of a 49-year-old man killed by the falling stage.

Former Marion County Prosecutor Carl Brizzi, who is representing the family of Glenn Goodrich, said the family has filed the notice against the state regarding intent to file a lawsuit. The suit was not a class action.

Goodrich, a security worker employed by ESG Security who was working at the show, was critically injured in the incident and died hours later.

At least two other lawsuits were filed on behalf of other victims last Friday.


  • Really?
    get over yourself
  • A New Low....
    which is really sayin something for these folks at C&M.
  • lawyer extortion
    This will never go to court. The lawyers will find out everyone's insurance limit, threaten to go for it all and then settle out of court, once again extorting everyone they can. The fair commission, TSA, the State patrol? This firm is fishing and it's the type of lawyer behavior that ticks off everyone. Not knowing who is to blame doesn't cost these lawyers anything but the entities named are all starting to rack up big legal bills.

    This may or may not be an act of God. But lawyers naming everyone wihtout even knowing how or why the accident occured is abusive to the innocent entities named and expensive. "You've been hurt, someones got to pay!" has become a legal concept with no basis in reality.
  • Attorney fees
    Are the lawyers waiving all fees? Or are they waiving only fees from Indiana which are capped at $5M? I would not be surprised if the firm does not waive the other defendatns (i.e. the private parties) who have unlimited liability.
  • Emotional Trauma?
    ...Yes, I'm sure if Angela had witnessed a traffic accident and saw something that she could claim left her "emotionally scarred", that yeah, she would sue.

    My teen daughter and I were there, we saw those people die and/or get injured by the collapse, but I think the fault mostly lies with people in general. We knew it was likely to storm that night - it was on the weather channel. We went anyhow. We saw the storm coming and STILL chose to hang around and see if the concert would proceed. Just like everyone else. Sirens would have made no difference. There wasn't enough time before the winds hit. But we ALL made the conscious choice to stay there instead of seeking shelter elsewhere until it was too late. I for one do not wish to be involved in a class action lawsuit.
  • Sad
    Really??? I don't believe any of them are in titled to a lawsuit. It as an act of nature. I understand there is loss and pain but suing over it isn't going to help heal any quicker or bring those people back. Greedy People.
  • Seriously????
    OK, families of those killed and injured definitely are entitled to some type of settlement, but Angela??? seriously? she is just trying to ride the money train. we all see/experience traumatic things in our lives - this class action suit makes me sick to my stomach...
  • Appalling
    Only the law firms will end up with the big bucks. Wait and see!
  • Really
    Seeing people get injured or killed happens. Get over it. Suing for emotional damage is just wrong. People who were hurt, killed that is reasonable. but they should be going after the people who constructed the stage and not homeland security. We are a litigious nation and need to stop.
  • why sue concert promoter
    Who all is being sued? Everyone that could possibly pay out. State Police, homeland security really? I think that is the problem that many have, and yes that is what we do as attorneys, sue everyone including the company that paved the road to the fair.
  • Joke Class Action
    It is shameless attempt by Cohen & Malad to get free media. There is NO way this case gets certified as a class action lawsuit. Where is the questions of law or fact common to the class? They have been running a pay-per-click campaign for the last week trying to get victims. They should have tried to get more people together and filed a mass action.
  • Funds from State?????
    Waiving fees from the state? With no existing code to enforce, how is the state responsible? They'll be plenty of fees they will recover from someone - they'll make sure someone pays. Those attorneys won't go hungry, believe me. They'll probably name the corn dog vendor across from the grandstand and the volunteers at the Pioneer Building just to make sure anyone within a five mile radius is not missed.
    • Jumping to Conclusions
      Lots of people jumping to conclusions here - the whole point of the legal process is to begin the process of discovery to determine who was at fault, and at what relative percentage were they at fault. If it was truly an "Act of God" then the evidence will show that - making a shoot-from-the-hip judgment based on what you saw on WTHR is no replacement for experts investigating the situation.

      I see nothing despicable nor unusual about the way this lawsuit is being handled. If there was negligence involved on the part of the State Fair or the various companies involved in the stage setup, the victims and the victims' families should be compensated.

      Finally, RTFA - "Levin said his firm is waiving any fee it might earn from the lawsuit in order to maximize the limited amount of funds recoverable from the state."
      • I'm not suing but.....
        The wind was an act of God. The stage toppling over wasn't necessarily. I was there and although the wind was very strong, the stage came down rather easily. As far as trauma, yes I can understand if you saw someone hurt badly that it could affect you. I was a hundred feet away and I still feel sick, anxiety and stress especially when there is more news about the injured. I can understand how someone who saw someone get injured or killed could have lasting emotional affects. Let's see what the investigation finds before we judge. If there was no negligence then the suits will be thrown out.
      • Oops
        Oops, sorry for the mistake...should be attorneys not attorney's
      • Looking for blame?
        Cohen & Malad "despicable"? Really? They are just doing their job as attorney's and should be paid for their time. If Tim Durham had not caused this problem to begin with then there would have been no lawsuit. Now, who is despicable?
      • Damn Lawyers
        Lawyers are always there, wanting to be paid for their efforts, whenever someone is hurt or killed and wants to sue so they have money to buy their kids food. Why don't these people just deal with it, instead of suing the people whose negligence caused the death or injury to their loved ones, and the possibly the loss of a substantial part of the family's income? I don't get it.
      • "Act of God"
        "Act of God" ... Have any of those jumping on the bandwagon ever heard those words? My heart goes out to those families that have lost loved ones, and those who are in recovery from this horrific event.

        These are hard and trying times for a lot of families outside of this event. Rather than bleed the state budget that serves many needy families. Why not take the lawyers put of it. Hire a neutral party to act as liaison and take care of the expenses of all of the directly affected individuals. No amount of money can take away pain and suffering from those affected. However, I do not believe the State Fair folks, nor anyone of us expected the freak storm that blew through that night, especially with the extraordinary wind speeds that it brought with it.

        This was merely an act of God with no malice or unprofessionalism intended.

        There will be several levels of treatment and expenses that will justifiabely be paid by State fair officials. However, sueing gains nothing except to make lawyers rich at the expense of many people who will be affected during these hard times.

        Think of your fellow man and not the almighty dollar. Thousands of prayers have been said from the moment the accident was reported. It was an act of God, let's all pray to God for guidance and be a little less sue happy.

      • Words
        While this was a tragic event, why do no media outlets refer to it as "the state fair accident"? Was there a directive that all outlets call it "the state fair tragedy"?
      • Seriously, it was an accident
        I am deeply sorry for the families who lost loved ones in this tragedy. Suing the state fair is NOT the way to honor their memory. Seriously, it was an accident - let it go.
      • Greedy Lawyers
        Only the attorney will profit from a class action lawsuit.
      • Go to jail
        The fair officials should be facing criminal penalties for this. The dead peoples family should be be paid a reasonable amount for their loss. The attorneys should but out of the scam game they play.
      • emotional trauma?
        What if Angela witnessed a traffic accident where someone was at fault and she saw a mangled body? Would she sue for emotional trauma. Please...at least use someone who was actually hurt.

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