Sugarland Sued Over Indiana Stage Collapse

Survivors of the State Fair tragedy are seeking unspecified damages from the country duo.

Ultimate Guitar

Survivors of the August stage collapse at the Indiana State Fair have filed a lawsuit claiming that the entire tragedy could have been avoided.

Country duo Sugarland has been named in the suit, filed on Tuesday Nov. 22 by 44 survivors and family members of the deceased, along with producers, stage riggers and other associated with the Aug. 13 show. According plaintiff's attorney Mario Massillamany, Sugarland's contract gave the performers final say on whether the show should be cancelled due to weather.

In a statement obtained by the AP, Massillamany said, "Unfortunately, this tragedy could have been prevented if the responsible parties had been concerned about the concertgoers that night."

The complaint states that Sugarland was guaranteed $300,500 to perform, $34,500 for sound, lights and catering, and 85% of gross box office receipts over $470,000. The band and other entities are said to have owed a duty to provide a safe concert environment, using reasonable care in the direction, set-up and supervision of the show. Seven individuals died as the result of the collapse.

"This is a devastating tragedy that has impacted hundreds of people," plaintiff's co-counsel Scott Starr added. "It is critical to help the victims pay the medical bills and other financial expenses that they have incurred from the incident."

The lawsuit marks the largest claim to date, with at least two other suits previously filed on behalf of other victims. These claims also cite Sugarland among the defendants.

The band returned to Indiana on Oct. 28 to play a free show at the Conesco Fieldhouse in Indianapolis. "Obviously we are here in October we were supposed to do this show in August. Obviously, the stage is different, you are different and we are different. We are all changed by what happened then," Jennifer Nettles told the crowd. "But we are going to try to give you the best show that we can and to celebrate healing with you and to celebrate life and music with you here tonight."

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10 comments sorted by best / new / date

    BigSpence wrote: I'm not buying this. I think the whole thing is staged.
    If these people knew the weather was going to be bad that night, then why did they go to an outdoor concert??
    rechris06 wrote: If these people knew the weather was going to be bad that night, then why did they go to an outdoor concert??
    I think I'd still want to see a band perform if they were my favorite, weather or not it was going to storm.
    Didn't UG report this already a couple of weeks ago? Whatever people should be suing the idiots who built that shitty ass stage..And it's not entirely Sugarland's fault. The promoters didn't get the right weather report and THE PROMOTER was the one who refused to cancel the show.
    They didn't know the weather was supposed to be bad. It came out of nowhere. I live close to there. Sadly, when they realized the weather was coming they did not inform the crowd.
    When it comes down to it, it is the promoter and the staging company! The promoter is the one that will lose money, if the show is cancelled. The band, crew and production will still get paid for having everything set up. On top of that, I don't know any production crew willing to sacrifice one of their own (a spot operator was one of the victims). Also, this was considered a "one-off" to the 3rd parties (sound and maybe lighting/video)...meaning, they might've had other gigs after this event. From experience, I can see the lead personnel arguing with the higher ups to lower the roof, to protect their own crew and gear. First off, this greedy promoter tried to cut corners by hiring an incompetent staging company. I've heard numerous negative comments on how the roof was rigged (guide wires), from expert riggers. Also, the roof was raised at least 10ft. too high. The way the roof fell says a lot. It should have fallen backwards instead, regardless. The sound, lighting, video and backline crew couldn't do anything at that would've taken at least 30 mins. to an hour, to bring down the roof. They would've had to raise the P.A. and video wall, before lowering the entire roof system. My guess is the promoter did the wait-and-see approach...EPIC FAIL!!!
    Following this tragic event, there are 3rd party inspectors at outdoor shows...usually hired through the local government. That's great news for us production crews. We don't have to argue with the promoters, the inspectors can overwrite their decisions, regardless if they (promoters) lose money.