Mid-America Sound says settlement deal fails

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A deal that would have let two companies - Mid-America Sound and James Thomas Engineering - off the hook for last year's stage collapse at the Indiana State Fair has failed.

Mid-America Sound announced Wednesday that not enough of the victims agreed to participate within the set deadline.

Company Spokeswoman Myra Borshoff tells 13 Investigates that the companies are not throwing in the towel, but this is a major setback.

At last report, the Attorney General's Office reported that 51 of the 62 people eligible for the extra $7.2 million had agreed to accept the deal.

But Mid-America Sound says not enough of the families or victims with the largest claims agreed to accept the $7.2 million and not file a lawsuit.

We do know that Bradley Humphrey's attorneys went into arbitration Tuesday seeking a portion of the funds for Bradley's ongoing health issues, which will be lifelong since he was paralyzed from the chest down. His attorneys told 13 Investigates they knew going in that there wasn't enough money.

The state will now proceed with its distribution of $6 million in supplemental relief funds to victims of the stage collapse in light of Mid-America Sound's decision.

"Because State Fair victims said they needed financial assistance sooner rather than later, my office made an effort to facilitate a private settlement to increase the relief available. It was worthwhile to try to bring the claimants and defendant companies together; but since the parties did not reach an agreement, we will move to distribute the original $6 million the Legislature appropriated, well before the January 2013 deadline, and we will continue to look for opportunities to serve the victims," Attorney General Greg Zoeller said in a release Wednesday evening.

The participating estates of the people who died in the August 13, 2011 collapse will receive $700,000 each. Those who suffered "non-permanent physical injuries" will be reimbursed for 100 percent of their out-of-pocket medical costs after insurance and taking into consideration the 65 percent payments made in December.

Checks to the victims and their families will be issued in the fall. Zoeller's office says the attorney general will also explore other options for assisting victims.

"No amount of money ever will replace the lives lost or alleviate the anguish suffered by families in the State Fair tragedy. Some said we should have distributed the $6 million and walked away, but we had a duty to do more for the victims and try to secure additional funds to assist them with their substantial financial needs. We worked with a large group of claimants' attorneys in structuring a reasonable and equitable settlement proposal," Zoeller said.

"On a personal note I will admit to some disappointment, but I believe the public-private effort was nonetheless worthwhile. Without putting the State at any risk, we provided an opportunity to speed more than twice the funds to the victims, which has always been my focus. It's not my role to assign blame that an agreement was not reached, but I will continue to offer whatever assistance my office can provide," Zoeller added.