|Victim Christina Santiago|
Calling the powerful winds that toppled the stage on Aug. 13 an "act of God," Sugarland's attorneys said fair officials and Mid-America Sound Corp. were responsible for the stage setup, and that the fans voluntarily assumed risk by attending the show.
"Some or all of the plaintiffs' claimed injuries resulted from their own fault," according to the band's response. Sugarland attorney James H. Milstone did not immediately respond to a phone call seeking comment Tuesday.
Seven people died and 58 were injured in the crush beneath the metal rigging and concert sound equipment.
Jeff Stesiak, a South Bend attorney involved in the suit, said the band's response was strange given the circumstances of the fans' injuries.
"It's unusual to put the blame on victims. The concert wasn't canceled and they weren't told to leave. I can't imagine what the victims did to be at fault," Stesiak said Tuesday. "They had a duty to warn fans. An open and obvious danger is more like walking along a road and seeing a downed power line and walking over it anyway. The storm wasn't like that."
Lawyers for the band are seeking a jury trial.
In a Jan. 16 deposition on a lawsuit against the company that built the stage rigging, Indiana State Fair Commission Executive Director Cindy Hoye testified that Sugarland resisted delaying the start of the concert despite threatening weather.
Hoye said a representative for a concert promotion company working with the fair twice approached Sugarland about the fair's desire to delay the show. But Hoye said the band expressed concerns about how a delay would affect the time Nettles needed to warm up and complicate the band's travel to its next show.