INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) – One of the victims hurt in the 2011 Indiana State Fair stage collapse will ask a state appeals court Monday to declare the state’s cap on damage payments unconstitutional.
Attorneys for Jordyn Polet of Cincinnati plan to argue that the self-imposed cap does not allow all victims to be paid equally, and has resulted in the denial of the right for Polet and other plaintiffs to seek the amount of 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.
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.
Jordyn Polet elected not to settle, suing the state instead, and was not paid as part of the $11 million allocated to victims. Because the maximum amount of money approved by the Tort Claims Act has already been paid, Marion County Judge Theodore Sosin ruled that the State and other defendants are not liable to pay her claims.
Polet’s attorneys will appeal that ruling Monday.
“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 original motion.
The three-judge panel will allow each side 20 minutes to present oral arguments in the case on Monday. A final ruling is not expected for several more weeks.
If the appeals court agrees with Polet’s contention, other state fair victims could be allowed to file claims for additional compensation. The case could also set new precedent for the amounts of financial damages awarded in tort lawsuits in Indiana.