Though their attorneys said fans were partly to blame for injuries in a response to a civil lawsuit filed against them following the fatal stage collapse at 2011's Indiana State Fair, Sugarland insisted that they did care about their fans. Gail Gellman, a manager for the country duo, has issued a statement on Tuesday, February 21 afternoon in an attempt to clarify the band's response.
"Sadly when a tragedy occurs, people want to point fingers and try to sensationalize the disaster," Gellman noted before stressing, "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."
Sugarland sparked fans' outrage after their response to a negligence suit filed against them was uncovered on Tuesday. In the court documents obtained by local Indiana news station WRTV, the band's attorneys claimed that injured fans "failed to exercise due care for their own safety", adding some of them "knowingly and voluntarily assumed and/or incurred the risk of injury to themselves."
Their lawyers also argued that the band "had nothing to with the construction of the venue" or therefore its safety. The document additionally read, "The incident at issue in this litigation resulted from a gust of wind of unprecedented intensity, which caused a structure that may have been improperly designed, maintained and/or inspected to fail. As such, this was a true accident or Act of God."
Reacting to Sugarland's response, Haley Waggoner of Cincinnati, who suffered a concussion because of the stage collapse, told The Associated Press, "It disgusts me. Through this whole process, I don't feel like the band cares that much about fans." She further added, "If they don't believe in us for something that isn't our fault, then I don't want to support them."
Carl Brizzi, who is representing the widow of killed security guard Glenn Goodrich, also shared sharp reaction to the band's response to the negligence suit. He said in a statement, "Sugarland has engaged in a public relations campaign to put the best light on its role in the avoidable tragedy. And this spin-doctoring of Sugarland's role in the case is both offensive and outlandish."
The fatal stage collapse at an Indiana State Fair took place on August 13, 2011. It occurred after a storm toppled concert scaffolding onto the front rows as Sugarland were waiting to take their turn to hit the stage. It left seven people dead and more than 40 injured. Survivors and family members of the deceased filed the negligence lawsuit against the band in Marion Superior Court in Indianapolis in November.