Injured Concertgoers Blamed in Stage Collapse

When a defendant is named in a personal injury lawsuit, it is not uncommon for that party to deny responsibility and to try to shift the blame for the accident to another person.  Often, the defendant even tries to place all or part of the blame on the injured accident victim.  The plaintiff's role in his or her own injury may be considered either contributory negligence or comparative negligence.  If a defendant is successful in using contributory or comparative negligence as a defense, the plaintiff will not see the full compensation he or she deserves from the lawsuit.  In some cases, contributory negligence will result in a judgment against the plaintiff, who receives no financial compensation at all.  When a defendant tries to avoid shouldering his or her full responsibility, an Oklahoma City personal injury lawyer works aggressively to demonstrate that the fault or negligence lies entirely with the defendant, striving to obtain the maximum compensation available to his client. For some defendants in a personal injury lawsuit or premises liability lawsuit, attempting to shift the blame to the injured accident victims can be a devastating public relations move, a fact which the country band Sugarland is currently discovering. On August 13, 2011,  winds from a severe thunderstorm caused the stage to collapse at a Sugarland concert held at the Indiana State Fair.  The stage collapse resulted in seven deaths and forty-three injuries.  Personal injury and class action lawsuits have been filed against at least 13 defendants including the state of Indiana, the State Fair, Mid-America Sound Corp., the stagehands' union, and the country duo Sugarland. In the band's response to the civil lawsuits, the attorney representing Sugarland claims that the accident victims are to blame for their own injuries.  He stated that "an open and obvious danger" existed prior to the collapse and that injured concertgoers "failed to exercise due care for their own safety."  The defendants' response further asserted that fans' injuries "resulted from their own fault."  This attempt to blame the victims has Sugarland scrambling to smooth things over with outraged fans. Personal injury attorneys for the injured fans dispute the band's attorney's claim that an "open and obvious danger" existed, saying that the concert was neither cancelled nor delayed as a result of the weather, giving fans no reason to believe that a real danger existed.  In fact, in a deposition for a lawsuit against the company that built the stage rigging, Indiana State Fair Commission Executive Director Cindy Hoye reported that the band refused to delay the start of their show despite the weather.  She stated that the band was concerned about giving the singers the proper time to warm up for the performance and about how a delay might complicate their travel plans.  Sugarland's tour manager disputes the deposition, saying there was  no discussion about delaying the show. Regardless of whether or not the discussion took place, the show was not delayed, and fans assumed their safety was not at risk.  They remained to watch the musicians perform, and for some concertgoers, this was a fatal decision.  The personal injury lawyers representing the injured fans and the families of those killed in the stage collapse are aggressively attacking the defendants' assertion that the injured concertgoers are responsible for their own injuries and deaths. The Sugarland stage collapse was one of at least three stage collapses occurring at concerts during the summer of 2011.  Approximately a week before the Sugarland stage collapse, a stage collapsed due to strong winds at a Flaming Lips concert in Oklahoma.  Fortunately, no one was injured in the Flaming Lips stage collapse.   In July, a stage collapsed at a Cheap Trick concert at the Ottawa Bluesfest, injuring five. If you have been injured at a concert or other public event, you may be able to obtain compensation through an Oklahoma personal injury lawsuit, a class action lawsuit, a premises liability lawsuit, or a wrongful death lawsuit.  An experienced Oklahoma City premises liability lawyer can help you fight for the compensation you need to make the fullest recovery possible in the aftermath of a serious accident.