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Most Indiana fair stage-collapse victims accept settlement

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Most victims of a deadly stage collapse at the Indiana State Fair have agreed to accept shares of a $13.2 million settlement offer from the state and two private companies, the state attorney general's office said Thursday.

The office said 51 of the 62 eligible claimants have accepted the settlement offer. Paperwork from additional claimants that was postmarked by Wednesday's midnight deadline also will be accepted.

To accept the combined settlement, claimants agreed to release Mid-America Sound and James Thomas Engineering from additional liability in the Aug. 13, 2011, collapse before country duo Sugarland was to perform, killing seven and injuring dozens. The companies put up a combined $7.2 million in addition to the state's $6 million.

"This is an expedited and reasonable settlement that puts victims first and will provide for the immediate medical and financial needs now, rather than after waging lengthy and uncertain litigation," Attorney General Greg Zoeller said in a statement.

Claimants who do not agree to clear the companies would be barred from receiving the state money as well, said Zoeller spokesman Bryan Corbin.

Carl Brizzi, an Indianapolis attorney representing the wife of Glenn Goodrich, a security guard who died in the accident, and two other victims who were injured in the collapse, said his clients decided this was the best answer for them.

"I think that, at least as the far as the victims I represent, that money is going to help stabilize their situation," he said. Brizzi noted that the two companies were chipping in 90 to 95 percent of what their insurance policies cover. The companies have until Aug. 15 to sign off on the settlement. If the settlement is approved, the state would begin arbitration next month to allocate the money.

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