Nick Rees Dec. 24, 2012, 4:23pm

INDIANAPOLIS (Legal Newsline) - Indiana began distributing $6 million in supplemental relief payments last week to eligible victims of the Indiana State Fair disaster.

A total of 59 claimants, including the estates of seven deceased victims, will share in the $6 million, which was approved by the legislature after it assigned the attorney general's office the duty of distributing the funds.

"It was appropriate that the Indiana legislators decided to provide additional financial assistance to victims of the state fair tragedy in light of all that victims have endured," Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller said. "Developing and implementing an equitable method for allocating the funds was a complicated process, but our objective that victims receive expedited funds without years of litigation was accomplished."

The supplemental relief payments are the second and final phase of the state government's payments to victims of the August 13, 2011, stage-rigging collapse that occurred prior to a concert at the Indiana State Fair. Combined with an earlier round of payment last year, the total public relief paid to victims is $11 million.

The state's first payment phase in December 2011 paid out $5 million through its tort claim fund to 62 of 114 claimants who filed claims for injuries or fatalities stemming from the collapse. The $5 million met a cap set by state law.

The legislature took additional medical costs to victims into consideration and passed a new law - House Enrolled Act 1376 - in March that directed another $6 million in payment to eligible claimants by January 2013.

The new law provided the estates of the seven deceased, who previously received approximately $300,000 each, with an additional $400,000 each.

Claimants who accepted payments signed releases and agreed to not pursue additional legal action against the state of Indiana. Victims and their attorneys, however, may proceed with private litigation against other private defendants.

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