Seven people died and 58 were injured when country supergroup Sugarland’s stage collapsed after a huge gust of wind during a concert in Indianapolis, Indiana last year. Now, many victims, or victims’ families, are filing lawsuits against Sugarland, citing negligence. The concert was to be held on the state fairgrounds, and the fair twice approached Sugarland hoping to delay or postpone altogether the show. Sugarland insisted the show must go on, and the rest is history. Now, Sugarland’s attorneys have answered lawsuits with an unusual, and quite unpopular, defense. According to Sugarland, victims of the tragedy failed to take steps to ensure their own safety.
It’s a tough business here. I mean, cancelling a concert, especially for one of the more popular country music acts on the road, is a big deal. It’s not just about money. It’s about disappointing thousands. Let’s face it. If the storm blew over without incident, would anyone be saying anything about it except that Sugarland had overreacted. It wasn’t a new problem for the duo, either. Just a month or so earlier, they had to cancel a show in Tuscaloosa, Alabama because of the threat of severe weather. Tornadoes touched down in Tuscaloosa that day, causing damage, but nothing like the complete devastation that would accompany the twisters that landed in the town on April 27, 2011. In any case, Sugarland had already felt the sting of cancelling a show, disappointing fans, and
missing a payday.
That being said, blaming the fans for not taking better care of themselves may be a good legal defense, but it’s not much of one in the court of public opinion. Lead singer Jennifer Nettles went to great lengths to express her sympathies in the days following the tragedy, but mum’s the word now. Things often change when it’s time to put your money where your mouth is.