Collapsing Stages Increase as Summer Storms Hit

20110822-013323.jpg

Investigators are beginning the process to determine cause after last week’s deadly stage collapse at the Indiana State Fair, while weather officials, other bands, and the families of victims are insisting that tragedy was preventable.

The incident occurred when freak winds, some over 70 miles-per hour, toppled a stage shortly before the country duo Sugarland took the stage. Six concert goers were killed. Officials had started evacuating the area, but acted too late to save lives.

Weather warnings were given at least 20 minutes before the evacuation began, and the delay is the focus as officials try to understand how this happened and how to prevent it in the future.

Lawsuits have already been filed on behalf of the estates of Tammy Vandam and Beth Urschel, and state officials are expecting more suits to flood in.

Finding cause allows the courts to maximize claims. In this case, state liability insurance limits claims to $5,000,000 per incident, no matter how many victims there are, so officials are looking for other liable parties.

According to the Houston Chronicle, lawyers have also filed for class-action status:

“Indianapolis law firm Cohen & Malad is seeking class-action status for a lawsuit filed Monday in Marion County Superior Court against the state and companies involved in putting on the concert. The suit names as a plaintiff Angela Fischer of Indianapolis, who it says was emotionally traumatized by the accident. The defendants had no comment or didn’t return phone calls from the Associated Press seeking comment Tuesday.” – Houston Chronicle

This incident, and other deadly stage collapses, has raised several questions, including:

  • What inspections and permits are required for outdoor stages?
  • Who is liable when injuries and death occur?
  • What are weather cancellation policies?

2011 has been a particularly bad year, as four stage collapses have caused 11 deaths and several serious injuries. Those collapses include:

2010 and 2009 stage collapses:

Further reading: