Concert promoter settles with state fair victims that included gay rights activist

Christina Santiago (left) and Alisha Brennon

Christina Santiago (left) and Alisha Brennon The L Stop

MERRILLVILLE, Ind. — Country duo Sugarland, concert promoter Live Nation and 16 other defendants have agreed to pay $39 million to settle claims stemming from the deadly 2011 Indiana State Fair stage collapse, according to lawyers for the victims and their families.

Christina Santiago (left) and Alisha BrennonThe L Stop

Christina Santiago (left) and Alisha Brennon

Seven people were killed and nearly 100 were injured in August 2011, when high winds toppled rigging and sent the stage roof onto fans awaiting the start of a Sugarland concert.

Attorney Kenneth J. Allen said the settlement was significant because it provides compensation to a woman whose lesbian partner, Christina Santiago, was killed in the stage collapse.

Alisha Brennon and Santiago were one of the first same-sex couples to enter into a civil union in Illinois, before gay marriage was legalized this year. Indiana banned gay marriage until it was ruled unconstitutional this year.

Santiago was a well-known gay rights activist in Chicago.

Brennon, the executor of Santiago’s wrongful death estate, will be compensated as the surviving spouse and for her own injuries from the stage collapse, Allen said.

Two investigative reports into the cause of the incident found that the stage rigging that collapsed didn’t meet industry safety standards and that fair officials lacked a fully developed emergency plan. The accident led to new regulations on the erection of rigging for outdoor events.

The Dec. 19 settlement resulted from mediation that began in the spring and is in addition to an earlier $11 million settlement with the state.

Associated Press contributed to this report.

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