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A Rant – The Bidding Starts at $60 Million (and other things I just don’t get about mega-lawsuits)

Here we are, only days after the tragic collapse of an Indiana State Fair stage that has now claimed six lives and injured dozens more. The crumpled heap of metal and tarps and lights still lay on the infield of the Fairgrounds’ dirt track. The memorial of flowers still grows just outside the Grandstand’s entrance gates. The 2011 Indiana State Fair still has two days of Midway and livestock and deep-fried Kool-Aid to deal with before wrapping it up till next year.

Yep, we’re really not that far past the tragedy yet. But the first of the lawsuits about the collapse have already started to roll in. One asks for $60 million. That’s a whole lotta dough. It makes me wonder what the family will do with it if it is awarded to them. I doubt the pain of the death will vanish. Who knows, maybe it helps.

I just don’t understand mega-lawsuits like this. I never have. I think they harm free enterprise and society. I feel like they do little to help the family’s grieving process, and it’s done by selling out the dead.

Where did the $60 million number come from? Was $1 million not enough? Why not $10 million?

We don’t even know what happened yet. No cause has been determined. No investigation has been completed. (In fact, one of the lawsuits promises to slow that process by asking the heap to remain untouched for now.) There is no way to know who, if anybody other than Mother Nature, is responsible for what happened. No one yet to accurately blame.

But the lawsuits come anyway. They don’t seem to care who is really to blame. They’ll just blame everybody. And ask for their money. Lots and lots of it.

Some insurance companies will have to write some large checks. The taxpayers will surely foot big chunks of the bill. A business or two may cease to exist.

The bidding opened at $60 million. That’s just the starting point. Over the next several months we will see a lot more lawsuits filed. Some will ask for more. Some will ask for less.

How much is really needed? Cover hospital bills? Sure. Cover final expenses? Yep. Cover time away from work? Of course.

But how do you calculate how much more is needed? How much is all this really worth? Why $60 million?

I’ve never had a lawyer knock on my door and say, “I’m sorry about your recent tragedy. I can make you very rich from it, though.” I never want to. But if something like this did happen to me, I’d hope I could tell the lawyer to go to hell. It’d be hard to, in the face of riches, I’m sure. But I’d hope I could keep my resolve.

Pay my costs and throw in a little extra for the trouble, and allow me to live the rest of my life without the guilt of feeling like I sold out my loved one’s death. That’s how I’d like to think I’d handle it. I never want to know.

Am I wrong, here?

Lawsuits Start in State Fair Tragedy

The Star and RTV6 are this morning both reporting that the first lawsuits have been filed in the State Fair stage collapse tragedy.

The RTV6 story indicates the lawsuit, filed on behalf of Tammy VanDam, who was killed in the tragedy, is asking for an injunction to preserve all evidence.

The Star’s story’s headline indicates it is asking for $60 million in damages. That story is currently accompanied with a non-functioning web link, at least for mobile devices, so I can’t follow up.

Except to start seeing a lot more of this. Nearly everyone involved will be filing lawsuits in the coming months. They will fill our news for some time.

UPDATE – Found a working link to the Star’s story via author Jon Murray’s Twitter account and added it.

Unopposed Candidates No Longer Will Appear On Ballots

The news teams at

LPIN Podcast Season 2 – 003: LPIN Vice Chair Jerry Titus

Jerry Titus was elected as the Vice Chair of the Libertarian Party of Indiana this previous spring. Jerry discusses what role a Vice Chair serves in a political party, why he gives up so much of his own free time for political organizing, and what motives him most. Download Here.

Hotel Workers Flood Council for Tax Rebate Bill

I went to last night’s City-County Council Meeting. I wanted to see the Mayor introduce the budget and I wanted to see how the vote went on Prop 188. I never got to do the former.

See, it was standing room only at the meeting last night. Less than standing room only. A sea of red shirts completely flooded not only the council chambers, but also the entire second floor entry area to those chambers. The Fire Marshall’s capacity notice for the room, if I recall correctly, states the room can hold no more than 275. I’m pretty sure the chambers were well past that number. (In the wake of the State Fair tragedy, I wonder what the fallout would have been if something terrible would have happened in that packed room.)

The hundreds of red shirts represented a segment of the hotel workers in Indianapolis that were there to support the introduction of Proposal 242, a tax rebate for the city’s employees in that industry. Not just any of the employees, but just those making between $10,000 and $25,000 annually.

The hotel workers’ point is that many of these hotels are getting a tax break to make money in the city, and if the hotels get a piece then so should the hotel employees.

The tax break would come in the form of a rebate that would be somewhere between $200 and $250 per year. A decent little check for someone making less than $25,000. Abdul-Hakim Shabazz points out that this equals about 54 cents a day, and is thus not worth fighting for. His math is right, but when you make that kind of money $200 is worth fighting for.

You may think I’m saying I support 242. You’d be wrong. You see, I fully support lower taxes and the increased economic freedom they bring. But I also support economic freedom for all, not just some, as well as drastically simplified tax codes. Proposals like 242 carve out yet another exemption to a specific group and add another layer of confusion to an already multi-faceted mess of tax laws out there.

Hotel workers, you’ve got the right idea. Lets get the government to allow us to keep more of what we earn. You’re going about it wrong, though. We need to eliminate these carve-outs for specific industries, companies, and people and focus on a big carve-out for us all.

The Sinking Ship Survives

First, I won’t make the “Sinking Ship Stays Afloat” joke that it appears every other source will.

Good news, though. The Sinking Ship was unanimously approved for its liquor license renewal despite some residents in the Meridian Kessler neighborhood’s objections. Only one showed up to yesterday’s hearing to object.

I’ve always thought that this was less about the business itself and more about the patrons. Tattoos and body piercing are the norm there, and I think some people would rather see a place frequented by those in golf shirts and khakis.

I have no tattoos or piercings. I still like The Sinking Ship, though. Cool place with a good menu. I’m glad she’s staying open.

Follow the link for more on this from the indystar.

DCE the Driving Force Behind Ordinance Giving Themselves Uncontrolled Powers, Admits Councillor

I had about a 35 minute chat yesterday with Councillor Angel Rivera. We mostly talked about Proposal 188, but ventured off a few times and talked about various other topics like the Broad Ripple parking garage.
My original intent was to touch base with the Councillor before I posted the entry to my blog yesterday, so I’d be able to include his remarks there. As it would happen, he called me literally seconds after I published that post. I said I would discuss our conversation, though, when it happened. So, here it is.
First, and most importantly, I wanted to address the topic of why 188 is even necessary to begin with. When I asked him where he got the idea for 188, he did not hesitate to say it came from the Department of Code Enforcement. When I asked who the major contributor was to the original writing of 188, again the answer was the Department of Code Enforcement. My fears, as I laid out in my last blog, are indeed true. The proposal to give large amounts of undefined power to the DCE was, in fact, proposed and written by the DCE itself.
I asked Rivera if he saw the enormous conflict in interest in this.

One Down

Out of the top five Ames Straw Poll participants, distant third place Tim Pawlenty has already exited the race for the Republican presidential nomination. The top two, Michele Bachman who offered free Randy Travis concert tickets in exchange for support and Texas Congressman Ron Paul who has been seeing increasing support for his well-reasoned, pro-economy and pro-personal liberty positions basically were in a statistical tie with only 150 odd votes out of nearly 17,000 between them.

Rick Santorum having to devolve into name calling instead of being able to make legitimate foreign policy arguments in the last debate continues to cast doubt on his maturity to lead. This is in addition to his radical policy opinions that essentially involve using government to force his religious opinions and doctrine on all citizens. He managed less than 10%.

It’s No Better Now: Rivera’s Prop 188 is Amended and Heading for a Monday Vote


On Wednesday the 10th of August, the City-County Council

Four Dead and Dozens Hurt by State Fair Stage Collapse

The Indy Star is reporting that as many as a dozen people were injured tonight at the Indiana State Fair when part of the grandstand stage collapsed during winds associated with tonight’s storms.

According to the report, medics were setting up a triage center and moving the injured to a tunnel below the track in the area.

The report also indicates that there may have been the need to dig up parts of the track to reach concert-goers trapped by the collapsed rigging.

Follow the link below for the preliminary Indy Star report.

Dozen hurt at State Fair stage collapse | The Indianapolis Star | indystar.com

UPDATE

visit WTHR.com for video of the collapse. Terrifying.

UPDATE

The newest reports coming out of the Fairgrounds are saying four people have been killed in the stage collapse.

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