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Stage owner fined $50,000 over 2011 Indiana State Fair rigging collapse that killed 7 people

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INDIANAPOLIS — The owner of parts of a stage that collapsed during a powerful storm at the Indiana State Fair in 2011, an accident that killed seven people, will pay a $50,000 fine for safety violations, the state said Monday.

The Indiana Department of Labor said Mid-America Sound Corp. of Greenfield also agreed to prepare a safety plan for future stage projects and provide additional training for employees.

More than 40 people also were injured when high winds toppled rigging and the stage roof onto fans awaiting the start of a concert by the country duo Sugarland in August 2011. Mid-America, an event production company, owned the roof and rigging used to hold the lights and sound equipment that crashed onto the stage and crowd.

State Labor Commissioner Rick Ruble said in a statement that the agreement was "a positive outcome for everyone involved" that would "create a safer workplace for Indiana event production workers."

Mid-America Sound attorney Michael Moon said in a statement that the company "made no admission of any wrongdoing by entering into the settlement.

"Mid-America believed that it was important to move forward in a cooperative effort with IOSHA and to avoid the costs and expenses of further litigation," the statement said.

A spokeswoman for the state fair commission had no immediate comment.

The state safety agency said Mid-America employees attended a five-day safety training course conducted by an outside organization on setting up temporary roof structures.

The agency originally fined Mid-America $63,000 for three serious violations of industry standards.

The $50,000 settlement will be paid in four installments of $12,500.

A judge recently ruled that the state cannot be held responsible for work performed by Mid-America, rejecting the company's claim that its contract with the state made the state fair commission liable for any injuries after the stage was set up.

Robert MacGill, an attorney for Mid-America, told The Indianapolis Star that the company was considering whether to appeal the judge's decision.

A jury award or out-of-court settlement could amount to a substantial sum, because the plaintiffs in the consolidated lawsuit include the estates of the seven who died and some victims with serious injuries.

The state already has paid out $11 million to victims or their estates.

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