Country duo Sugarland says it is devastated that people “want to point fingers and try to sensationalize” an Aug. 13 stage collapse that killed seven people and injured 58 before the band’s show at the Indiana State Fair.
The band issued a statement to The Associated Press on Tuesday after its attorneys responded to a lawsuit by saying that injuries to fans were at least partly “their own fault.”
Sugarland manager Gail Gellman said fans are “the single most important thing” to the duo.
The collapse occurred when high winds toppled rigging holding lighting and other equipment. The band’s attorneys call the winds an “act of God” and say fair officials and Mid-America Sound Corp. were responsible for the stage setup.
Country duo Sugarland said it is blameless in the stage and rigging collapse at the Indiana State Fair last summer that killed seven people, calling the accident “an act of God” caused by a surprisingly high gust of wind.
The band’s attorneys responded in a court filing to claims of negligence filed against the duo in a civil lawsuit tied to the tragic collapse on Aug. 13.
Several victims filed a lawsuit Nov. 22 in Marion Superior Court in Indiana, claiming that negligence on the part of Sugarland and others contributed to the tragedy.
Seven people were killed and more than 40 were injured when a gust of wind toppled equipment that hung over the stage before the group’s Aug. 13 concert at the fair.
In its response to the lawsuit, Sugarland claims the stage collapse was the result of a “gust of wind of unprecedented intensity” and as such was “a true accident, or act of God.”
They also added that “they had nothing to do with the construction of the venue” — the state fair stage where their concert was to have been held.
Sugarland also said that the plaintiff’s claims were caused by “an open and obvious danger,” adding that some or all of the plaintiff’s injuries “resulted from their own fault.”
Sugarland also identified other parties that it said were in part responsible for the tragedy, including Indiana State Fair officials, Indiana State Police, members of the labor union who helped construct the stage and the state of Indiana.
In their response, Sugarland also denied allegations in the earlier lawsuit that said the band had supervisory authority over the setup of the State Fair stage.
“Lucky Star Inc. (the band’s ownership company) did not have any control over the size of the stage nor the public address system, as this was all provided for by the Indiana Fair Board,” Sugarland said in its response.
A report released Feb. 8 by the Indiana Occupational Safety and Health Administration found that the stage scaffolding was not properly erected and that Mid-America had not inspected the rigging during its construction or after it was erected.
The agency issued more than $80,000 in fines for violations that occurred before the stage was hit by a blast of wind as country duo Sugarland was about to perform.
Mid-America sharply criticized the report.
According to the civil lawsuit filed in November, the companies and the band failed to build a safe stage and should have paid more attention to the weather that evening. When the weather worsened, the lawsuit states, the concert should have been canceled and the crowd evacuated.
The families or estates of four people who died in the accident are listed as plaintiffs in the lawsuit, as well as many other victims who were injured.
Defendants also include concert producer Live Nation, ESG Security, the stagehands’ union and other companies involved with Sugarland’s concert.
The lawsuit asks the court to award damages and attorneys’ fees.