Articles Posted in Wrongful Death

Victims of the stage collapse at the 2011 Indiana State Fair had until August 1, 2012 to approve a proposed settlement involving the State of Indiana, the owner of the collapsed stage, and the stage’s manufacturer. The stage owner rejected the settlement plan after the deadline, saying not enough plaintiffs had agreed. The Indiana Legislature approved two separate settlement amounts for the victims, but the state has not disbursed the second set of funds while the other settlement negotiations were in progress. Without a settlement of the plaintiffs’ claims, some of the defendants may attempt to file cross-claims against the state.

The stage collapse occurred at about 8:46 p.m. on August 13, 2011, as the country music band Sugarland was preparing to perform on the fair’s main stage, known as the Grandstand Stage. High winds from a nearby thunderstorm caused stage rigging and scaffolding to fall onto a crowd of fans. Seven people were killed, and more than fifty were injured. The Indiana State Fair Commission contracts private companies for many of the fair’s services. A private contractor produced the Grandstand Stage performances, and other contractors handled stage construction, sound and lighting, and other technical functions. An investigation by two engineering firms retained by the state concluded that the state could have been better prepared, that public safety protocols at the fair were not clear, and communication between fair officials and contractors regarding weather conditions was not good.
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The parents of a woman who died after falling from a staircase at a 2010 Halloween party have filed a lawsuit against the Chicago hotel and event companies that hosted the party. The suit alleges negligence against the party’s hosts for providing unlimited alcohol to the attendees, and failing to provide adequate security to keep them safe. The lawsuit draws on principles of premises liability and the Dram Shop law, but it may also have to contend with issues of comparative fault.

On October 30, 2010, 23 year-old Megan Duskey and friends went to a party at the Palmer House Hilton hotel in Chicago. Around two thousand guests were expected at the party, which was scheduled to go until 2:00 a.m. According to one of Duskey’s friends, they had been at the party for about thirty minutes when she stepped away for a moment. When the friend returned, her other friends told her that Duskey had fallen. Duskey had apparently tried to slide down a banister rail in a stairwell. She fell four stories and died instantly of head trauma. This occurred at about 10:30 p.m. The coroner’s office later ruled her death an accident.

Duskey’s parents, Deborah and James Duskey, filed a lawsuit on July 24, 2012 in Cook County Circuit Court in Chicago, naming the Palmer House Hilton and its parent, Hilton Worldwide, as defendants, along with the event companies, Surreal Chicago and Adrenaline Y2K. The party’s hosts, according to the lawsuit, allowed ticket holders at the party to “consume unlimited amounts of alcoholic beverages,” but did not have security to protect partygoers. The lawsuit alleges ten total counts and seeks over $500,000 in damages from the defendants.
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Indiana ranks in the middle of the fifty states and the District of Columbia when it comes to injury prevention, according to a recent study. The study, entitled “The Facts Hurt: A State-By-State Injury Prevention Policy Report,” is the work of the Trust for America’s Health (TFAH), a health care policy organization, in partnership with the philanthropic Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. The study ranks states and D.C. based on ten “key indicators” relating to injury prevention laws or regulations. Indiana has five of the ten. It also ranks the states based on the total number of annual injury-related deaths per 100,000 people. With a rate of 60.4, Indiana ties Kansas for the twenty-seventh highest rate.

The study analyzed injury data, which it says account for 180,000 deaths per year in America. The lifetime costs of injuries in the U.S., which includes both immediate costs and ongoing care needs, as well as lost income and productivity, exceeded $406 billion in 2000. Injuries, as compared to communicable and non-communicable disease, are the leading cause of death for Americans between the ages of one and forty-four. At 97.8 njury-related deaths per 100,000 people, New Mexico has the highest annual rate. New Jersey, with 36.1, has the lowest. Indiana and Kansas, tied at twenty-seventh, are almost exactly in the middle.
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