Indiana State Fair Stage Collapse

Stage Collapse at Indiana State Fair

Doehrman Chamberlain expresses our deepest sympathy to the victims of the Indiana State Fair stage collapse.  We are an Indianapolis firm with very dear and deep connections to this tragedy.  Our hearts go out to our community and to the families involved.

Click here to see Tom Doehrman’s video interview and 6News report.

Fair Stage Likely Never Officially Inspected Before Collapse
Indianapolis Doesn’t Have Jurisdiction On State-Owned Property

6News Kara Kenney reporting, August 15, 2011-

INDIANAPOLIS — The stage that collapsed at the Indiana State Fair on Saturday, killing five people and injuring 45 others, likely never had an official inspection, 6News has learned.

The Indiana Department of Homeland Security, which oversees fire and building safety, inspects rides, fire extinguishers and fire exits, does not inspect temporary structures, like stages, 6News’ Kara Kenney reported.

“That’s not part of what we do as part of the inspection process,” said agency spokesman John Erickson.

The city of Indianapolis requires a permit for temporary structures, but inspectors do not have the authority to permit or inspect state-owned properties, like the fairgrounds.

“Our department is not only about protecting quality of life for our neighborhoods and our residents, but also protection in buildings,” said Kate Johnson, spokeswoman for the Department of Code Enforcement. “That’s why we do have inspections on construction to make sure these types of tragedies don’t happen in the future.”

Tom Doehrman, a lawyer who has represented clients in collapse cases, questioned whether the structure was set up correctly.

“Was the temporary structure put up correctly and was it anchored correctly? Were the towers supported? And perhaps guy wires perhaps should have been used,” he said. “If we’re going to avoid something like this in the future of our city, we have to ask the hard questions.”

Doehrman said he anticipates there will be lawsuits in connection with Saturday’s stage collapse.

“I certainly think there could be potential claims here,” he said.

The Indiana State Fair Advisory Committee, a legislative committee that oversees State Fair policies and protocol, was scheduled to meet Tuesday, but the meeting was canceled.

Lawmakers told 6News they are concerned about the lack of inspections.

“Many questions will be raised and difficult answers must be expected,” said Rep. David Niezgodski, D-South Bend. “Until a more complete status report has been provided, it is yet too early for consideration of legislative action.”

Wind gusts between 60 and 70 mph toppled the stage Saturday, where an estimated 12,000 people were waiting for the concert. Twenty-five people remained hospitalized Monday.

Some other headlines:

Fifth death reported in Sugarland Indianapolis stage collapse

Strong wind topples stage at Ind. fair, killing 5