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"Sadly, when a tragedy occurs, people want to point fingers and try to sensationalize the disaster," Sugarland's manager, Gail Gellman, writes in a statement sent to The Boot. "The single most important thing to Sugarland, are their fans. Their support and love over the past nine years has been unmatched. For anyone to think otherwise is completely devastating to them."
The country duo's Kristian Bush and Jennifer Nettles are forever changed by what happened August 13, 2011, in Indianapolis. Seven people were killed and 58 injured when powerful gusts of wind caused stage rigging and equipment to collapse just before Sugarland were set to take the stage. While the governor of Indiana has publicly stated that it was a "fluke event" that couldn't have been foreseen, others are looking to blame someone other than Mother Nature.
Sugarland bandmates and crew members are among the parties named in a lawsuit filed back in November by 44 survivors and family members of four of the seven people who died at the show. They're seeking an unspecified amount of money from the band and the show's producers and stage crew.
"This tragedy could have been prevented if the responsible parties had been concerned about the concertgoers that night," Mario Massillamany, an attorney representing several of the victims, told the Associated Press.
Sugarland's lawyers are now seeking a jury trial. They fought back this week, calling the tragedy an "act of God" and suggesting concertgoers are partially to blame for failing to ensure their own safety. They also note that it was fair officials and Mid-America Sound Corp. who were responsible for the stage setup.
"It's unusual to put the blame on victims," responded Jeff Stesiak, an attorney involved in the victims' lawsuit. "The concert wasn't canceled and they weren't told to leave. I can't imagine what the victims did to be at fault. They had a duty to warn fans. An open and obvious danger is more like walking along a road and seeing a downed power line and walking over it anyway. The storm wasn't like that."
Sugarland returned to Indianapolis in October to perform a free concert in tribute to the state fair victims. "It was an emotional show, as well as a celebratory show, celebrating life, and music, and healing," said Kristian.
While the lawsuit against Sugarland is pending, the state of Indiana has already agreed to a $5 million payout for the victims -- the maximum allowed under the state government's liability law.