You do not need to be a country music fan to have heard of the band Sugarland. Atlanta residents who do not know the band's music have likely heard about the catastrophe that ensued when the band's stage collapsed beneath them during an August concert. Seven people died and dozens were injured.
This tragedy illustrates a few of the complexities of premises liability and wrongful death law. Three of the people who were injured by the stage collapse, along with the estates of three people who died, are now suing the company that built the roof and the rigging used to hold lights and sound equipment that collapsed. However, testimony has revealed that the band may be held partially responsible as well.
The collapse took place Aug. 16 at the Indiana State Fair when high winds blew the stage over and onto fans. The plaintiffs allege that the company who built the stage rigging is responsible, but the Indiana State Fair Commission's director said in a deposition that Sugarland was asked to delay the start of the concert due to threatening weather and the band resisted doing this.
Sugarland's attorneys have called the winds which spurred the stage collapse an "act of God." The two members of the country duo have been ordered to give depositions in court next week, but they are attempting to reschedule this until May.
Premises liability cases can be complicated due to the number of people and entities that may be jointly responsible for the safety of a property. Nonetheless, when someone is injured or killed on another person's property, the owner, manager or another party may be held accountable. Oftentimes, the landowner or proprietor knows of the danger in advance of the accident and should make an effort to prevent it. It does appear that the State Fair officials and the band were aware that dangerous weather was ahead in this case.
Source: Courrier-Journal.com, "Sugarland wants to delay Indiana State Fair stage collapse testimony until May," March 22, 2012