INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) – One of the victims hurt in the 2011 Indiana State Fair stage collapse is asking a judge to declare the state’s self-imposed cap on liability payouts unconstitutional.
Indiana’s Tort Claims Act sets the maximum total payout to victims from a single event at $5 million. That money was paid to 62 victims.
In late 2012, state legislators also allocated an additional $6 million in supplemental relief to 59 victims, bringing the state’s total payout to State Fair victims to $11 million in public funds.
According to court filings argued before Judge Theodore Sosin Thursday, the State of Indiana and other defendants named in an ongoing class action lawsuit “contend they are immune from [additional] liability pursuant to the Indiana Tort Claims Act.”
Because the maximum amount of money approved by the Act has already been paid, the State and other defendants argue any additional claims must be denied.
On Thursday, attorneys for Jordyn Polet of Cincinnati, argued to Judge Sosin that the state’s cap is unconstitutional because it doesn’t pay all the victims equally and denies Polet and other plaintiffs of the right to seek financial damages they see fit.
Polet, who was 10-years-old at the time of the collapse, sustained leg and ankle injuries during the collapse, and suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder, according to court documents. Her sister Jaymie and mother Jill sustained much more serious injuries, and their family friend Megan Toothman later died from injuries sustained during the collapse.
Jordyn Polet elected not to settle with the state and was not paid as part of the $11 million allocated to victims.
“The $5 million cap, both on its face and as applied, violates Plaintiff’s constitutional rights, which provides in relevant part [that] all courts shall be open, and every person for injury done to him and his person, property or reputation, shall have remedy by due course of law. The State’s decision to disperse the entire $5 million available under the cap to other victims of the Indiana State Fair stage collapse and then pay Ms. Polet nothing also violates [her constitutional rights],” her attorneys wrote in a legal filing supporting their motion.
Polet’s attorneys have asked Judge Sosin to allow their client to seek financial damages. If he agrees, other state fair victims could also file claims for additional compensation.
The judge agreed to take the motion under advisement. No time frame was issued Thursday for his decision.