Duo's lawyer blames fans for Indiana injuries

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Fans who were killed and injured when stage rigging and sound equipment collapsed onto them as they awaited a Sugarland concert at the Indiana State Fair failed to take steps to ensure their own safety and are at least in part to blame for their injuries, the country duo’s attorneys said.

The statement, part of a Feb. 16 response to a civil suit filed by survivors and families of some of those killed, is a clear attempt to cast blame away from the band as investigators continue to search for answers in the collapse that killed seven people and injured 58.

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 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 response. Sugarland attorney James H. Milstone would not elaborate Tuesday on whether that statement included those killed as well as the injured.

The lawsuit response sharply contrasts comments lead singer Jennifer Nettles gave The Associated Press two days after the stage collapsed.

Nettles said then that she was “moved by the grief of those families who lost loved ones. Moved by the pain of those who were injured and the fear of their families. Moved by the great heroism as I watched so many brave Indianapolis fans actually run toward the stage to try and help lift and rescue those injured. Moved by the quickness and organization of the emergency workers who set up the triage and tended to the injured.”

Sugarland manager Gail Gellman issued a statement to The Associated Press on Tuesday saying Nettles and Kristian Bush were upset that anyone might think they were not concerned about their fans.

“Sadly when a tragedy occurs, people want to point fingers and try to sensationalize the disaster. The single most important thing to Sugarland are their fans.”

Their support and love over the past nine years has been unmatched. For anyone to think otherwise is completely devastating to them,” the statement read.

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