Sugarland to be sued for stage collapse by victims’ families

by Michele Delpeche
Staff Writer

Families of the victims killed in Sugarland’s state fair stage collapse in Indiana are proceeding with their lawsuit against Agnes Scott College alum Jennifer Nettles ’97 and her band Sugarland. The lawsuit stems from an August 13th incident that left 7 concertgoers dead and 58 injured after stage equipment plummeted forward onto fans awaiting Sugarland’s performance. The lawsuit was filed in November and the band has since responded to the claim. The band has recently released a statement asserting that the collapse of the stage was a result of “a gust of wind of unprecedented intensity” and was a “true accident, or an act of God.” The band also stated that “they had nothing to do with the construction of the venue and did not have the final say on whether the show would be continued or not”. An attorney representing the family of one of the victims responded by saying that Sugarland’s response was “an attempt to distance themselves from responsibility that stage performers have to their fans”.
In an affidavit, the fair’s executive director, Cynthia Hoye, stated she sent the show’s promoter twice to talk to Sugarland about delaying the show because of the bad weather. According to her testimony, the band wanted to continue with their show. In a separate document enclosed in a state report on the incident, Sugarland’s tour manager Helen Rollins said no one asked the band to delay its set. The contradictions of these statements may have impact on the outcome of the case.
The Indiana State Fair Commission has since paid a $6,300 obligatory fine after state OSHA (Occupational Safety and Hazard Association) regulators decided the fair failed to conduct an adequate safety evaluation at the fairgrounds. No word yet from Sugarland about the outcome of this case.

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