Indiana fines company, union in deadly stage collapse

Reuters News
Posted: Feb 08, 2012 1:08 PM
Indiana fines company, union in deadly stage collapse

By Mary Wisniewski

(Reuters) - Indiana officials fined and cited the State Fair Commission, a stagehands union and a private company for safety violations on Wednesday over the summer stage collapse that killed seven people and injured dozens.

The outdoor concert stage at the Indiana State Fair collapsed in heavy wind on August 13 just before the country duo Sugarland was set to perform.

The Indiana Department of Labor levied the heaviest fine of $63,000 against Mid-America Sound Corp., the Indiana company that constructed the load-bearing roof structure for the stage, for "knowing violations."

The International Alliance of Theatrical and Stage Employees (IATSE) Local 30 was fined $11,500 and the State Fair Commission was fined $6,300.

"The evidence demonstrated that the Mid-America Sound Corporation was aware of the appropriate requirements and demonstrated a plain indifference with those requirements," said Lori Torres, the Indiana labor commissioner.

Mid-America failed to provide cross-bracing for the structure as recommended by the manufacturer, among other violations, the agency said.

A representative for Mid-America was not immediately available for comment.

The fines are separate from individual private lawsuits filed over the incident.

The violations cited against Mid-America included failure to develop a risk assessment plan, failure to maintain and use current engineering calculations and documentation, and failure to provide appropriate, qualified supervision.

The Indiana Occupational Safety and Health Administration found the State Fair Commission failed to have an adequate plan for emergencies.

Torres said the union failed to consider soil conditions when placing cable anchor points for the stage.

Bill Groth, an attorney for the union's Local 30, disputed the fine, saying the union was not an "employer" under the law, a condition the labor department found. Local 30 members were employed by the State Fair Commission, he said.

(Editing by Daniel Trotta)

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