Second wrongful death suit filed in Indiana State Fair tragedy

Alina BigJohny

INDIANAPOLIS - The family of a woman killed at a state fair concert has filed a huge lawsuit, but the state is not yet a defendant in the case. The family claims gross negligence led to the death of 23-year-old Alina BigJohny.

New pictures of Alina BigJohny show her posing in a bridesmaid dress she won't get to wear and sporting a new look her middle school students won't come to know.

"She's the type of person that you'd like to say, 'She's my daughter,'" said Gary Brown, Wilson Middle School principal.

Her easy smile, a treasured memory, is now connected to a night that family attorney Kenneth J. Allen believes was wrought with negligence. He says Alina was crushed when tons of stage rigging at the Indiana State Fair crashed to the ground.

"I've seen proof positive this was wrong," said Allen.

Allen says the trail of errors began with unheeded weather warnings, no contingency plans and a failure to evacuate even after a severe thunderstorm warning was issued.

"That's outrageous. Five minutes later, people were dead," said Allen.

Regarding the question that Alina and others could have made the decision to vacate the State Fair property when they saw the sky turn dark, Allen responded, "I think once you go into an event like this, you're entrusting your health and safety to those in charge."

The lawsuit names Mid-America Sound, ESG Security, and promoters of the Sugarland concert. It cites 22 acts of negligence, including the design and set-up of the stage, calling it overloaded with equipment and the tarp covering like a sail. He says the stage was like a house of cards ready to fall.

"Without question there was gross negligence on many levels, from the state of Indiana on down," said Allen. "Multiple entities had the opportunity to prevent this occurrence, to prevent these people from losing their lives and being harmed in the way they've been harmed. This was absolutely wrong. We are getting to the bottom of it. It's an outrage."

Until now only state-approved contractors have been allowed beyond the barriers at the accident site. But last week Kenneth J. Allen got an emergency injunction that could now allow his team into the wreckage.

"I don't want them in sole custody of the evidence. I just don't trust what they may or may not do with it," he said.

Alina BigJohny was single, and lived with her divorced mother. Allen says she was a partial dependent to her mother and that qualifies her for the wrongful death lawsuit. The term "dependent" doesn't take on the same meaning as someone dependent in tax terms.