First class action lawsuit filed in State Fair stage collapse

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INDIANAPOLIS - For the first time, a class action lawsuit has been filed in the Indiana State Fair tragedy.

Seven people have died since the stage collapse before a Sugarland concert on August 13th. Dozens more were injured, but the woman named in the suit was none of those.

For the average viewer, the images are disturbing and the aftermath is hard to watch. For many of those at the concert when the stage collapsed, it was a life-changing event.

"It's like a movie that doesn't stop," said Angela Fischer, plaintiff.

The seventh victim, Meagan Toothman, died Monday, and many others are recovering from fractures and other serious injuries. But it is the emotional toll it took on people like Angela Fischer that is the basis of the first class action lawsuit filed since that accident nearly two weeks ago.

"It's about helping people without a voice. Helping people I saw take a last breath in front of me," she said.

The lawsuit, filed against several state agencies and those who put on the show at the fair, claims negligence. In large part it blames what attorneys say was a problem with the construction of the stage, not the weather.

"The structure itself failed or was not adequately inspected," said Jeff Hammond, attorney.

"I will go to my grave believing that structure was not sound," said Fischer.

Although the class action suit includes anyone physically impacted by the collapse, the argument centers around the emotional distress. For that reason, legal experts caution it could be a challenge to hold up in court.

The attorneys, who say they'll waive all fees in the state's portion of the case, believe they're suit is strong and valid.

"Mistakes were made, procedures were not followed," said Richard Sheritz, attorney.

They maintain what is difficult for the average person to watch was devastating for those in attendance to witness.

"I never want someone I love to go through that trauma again," said Fischer.

The attorneys who filed the suit also take issue with the state's $5 million cap on claims. Along with waiving their fees against the state, they are encouraging other attorneys in this case to do the same.