Indiana Settles with Same-Sex Partners of Those Who Died in State Fair Stage Collapse

The state of Indiana has reached a legal settlement with most of those who sued after a stage collapse at the state fair last summer, including the surviving same-sex partners of two women who were killed.
By: Trudy Ring
December 20 2011 9:11 PM

The state of Indiana has reached a legal settlement with most of those who sued after a stage collapse at the state fair last summer, including the surviving same-sex partners of two women who were killed.

The state is paying at least $300,000 to each of the families of the seven people killed when the stage collapsed amid high winds August 13 at the state fairgrounds in Indianapolis as the band Sugarland was about to perform. It also is paying a portion of medical expenses to those injured in the accident, according to a press release from the Indiana attorney general’s office.

The attorney general’s office offered settlements to 65 claimants, and all but one accepted them. Chicago LGBT activist Christina Santiago (pictured) was one of those killed, and a $300,000 settlement will go to her wife, Alisha Brennon, Kenneth Allen, Brennon’s lawyer, told Windy City Times. Also, Brennon, who was seriously injured, will receive $114,000 toward her medical expenses, according to a list posted online by the attorney general.

The women were in an Illinois civil union, which is not recognized in Indiana, but the fact that Brennon received the same settlement as heterosexual partners may set a precedent, Allen said.

Also receiving a $300,000 settlement was Janeen Beth Urschel of Watanah, Ind., whose partner, Tammy Jean VanDam, died in the collapse. Urschel is also being compensated with $45,000 for medical expenses. Allen’s office also represents Urschel.

Allen told Windy City Times he disagreed with his clients’ decision to accept the state settlement but said they “were put in a pretty untenable situation.” The state is limited to paying out $5 million for any single incident, and that had to be divided among all those who sued. Allen had wanted to challenge that cap in court. He added that lawsuits are proceeding against various private companies involved with the concert production. 

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