IBJNews

Judge allows class in suit against state tort law

Back to TopCommentsE-mailPrintBookmark and Share

A federal judge certified all of the victims of the Indiana State Fair concert stage collapse into a single class Wednesday in a lawsuit challenging a law that caps the state's liability at $5 million, but she concluded the plaintiffs are unlikely to win the challenge.

The ruling by U.S. District Judge Sarah Evans Barker in Indianapolis allows the estates of three of the seven people killed in the Aug. 13 collapse to pursue their federal constitutional challenge to Indiana's tort claim law, which caps the state's financial liability at $700,000 per victim and a total of $5 million for all victims.

Besides the seven people killed in the collapse before a concert by the country duo Sugarland, more than 40 other victims also suffered physical injuries, and many more claim they were hurt in other ways.

Barker denied the plaintiffs' request for a preliminary injunction that would prevent any payouts from the $5 million fund to victims of the collapse, saying they had not shown they are likely to win the case, a required step before federal preliminary injunctions are granted.

"We cannot conclude that ... plaintiffs are clearly 'likely' to succeed on their assertion that Indiana's tort claims damages caps violate the federal Constitution," Barker wrote in a 26-page ruling.

However, plaintiffs' attorney Kenneth J. Allen of Valparaiso saw the ruling as a clear victory in his clients' bid to get the Indiana tort claims law thrown out. Instead of Indiana-employed judges deciding the constitutionality of the law, it will be federal judges, he said.

"Challenging the tort claim limits in federal court gives us a great opportunity for fair and impartial review not colored by the fact that the state treasury is involved or that state employees need to decide whether the state needs to pay more money," Allen said in a telephone interview.

He predicted the lawsuit citing the 14th Amendment protections to due process and equal protection eventually would go before the U.S. Supreme Court and that the Indiana law would receive the scrutiny it deserves.

"We think ultimately, if the U.S. Supreme Court looks at it in a rational light, it will be overturned," Allen said.

Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller, named as a defendant in the lawsuit with Gov. Mitch Daniels, said his office was working with about 30 law firms, a mediator, and victim compensation expert Kenneth Feinberg to split up the $5 million "fairly and equitably, and we hope to conclude the settlement process soon."

"We still are reviewing the Court's ruling, but it allows the State to continue negotiations with more than 100 claimants who applied for expedited settlement payments from the state's Tort Claim Fund," Zoeller said in a statement.

Allen represents the estates of Tammy Jean VanDam of Wanatah, Christina Santiago of Chicago, and Alina Bigjohny of Fort Wayne, and three other women who survived when the stage and some of its rigging collapsed after a wind gust of at least 60 mph that swept through the state fairgrounds on Indianapolis' north side.

A separate lawsuit filed Tuesday in Marion Superior Court in Indianapolis on behalf of the estates of the four other people who died and 44 other victims seeks unspecified damages from Sugarland, producers, stage riggers and others associated with the concert.


 

ADVERTISEMENT

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. I keep wondering why I keep hearing about this problem of corporations leaving America, and I never hear a reasonable proposal to lower corporate tax rates and raise personal rates on income from capital gains and dividends, especially for high earners. It is just too simple of a solution for Congress to embrace?

  2. Are you financially down and you need money to settle your dept,or you need money to start up a business or to invest on a huge business,we also offer Loans to individuals, Firms and cooperate bodies at low interest rate , loan terms determinant,Loan amount between the sum of $5,000.00 to $100,000,000.00. US Dollars And Euro. Loan for developing businesses a competitive edge/ business expansion. We Offer The Following Kinds Of Loans. Personal Loans (Secure and Unsecured) Business Loans (Secure and Unsecured) Consolidation Loan FIRST INFORMATIONS NEEDED ARE: BORROWER’S DATA’S INFORMATION,FILL AND RETURN FOR QUICK START UP PROCESS. Name:_________ Last Name:_________ Age:_________ Contact Address:_________ Country:_________ Amount Needed as Loan:_________ Loan Duration:_________ Phone Number__________ Monthly Income/Yearly Income:_________ Purpose for Loan:_________ Occupation:_________ How Soon is Loan Needed__________ Email via: albertbrownfirm@outlook.com

  3. is a disaster. SR37 already needs to be built to interstate standards between 465 and SR144. Southport Road is a mess each morning and evening.

  4. Bass Pro Shops would be good for the mall as well as a Giant Eagle Market District or a Jungle Jim's International Market Place grocery store like the one near Cincinnati Ohio.A Disney quest indoor theme park would be good.An Academy outdoor store would be good too.Indoor Circus shows and magic shows would be good as well. A casino with sports bar would be good.A Disney theater inside that shows movies and Broadway shows would work.Nashville Tennessee concert shops with indoor neon lights would be good.How about a theater that shows travel shows and theme parks. A train store would be good.How about a giant toy store with high tech video games.

  5. This development is in addition to Allpoints Midwest 5, Aitrtek, a recent FedEx and more in Plainfield. Greenwood and Brownsburg also have similar projects.

ADVERTISEMENT