• 09
  • September

Most people are generally aware of the concept of premises liability. Property owners have a responsibility to not put the public at risk of injury from unreasonably dangerous property conditions. For example, a grocery store owner must address spills that occur on its floors, because those spills can cause people to slip and fall.

A form of premises liability can also occur at other venues open to the public, such as concert halls and fairs. A stark reminder of the dangerous that such venues can pose came last month in Indiana, where a stage collapse at the state fair killed seven people and injured dozens more - including some who are likely to require lifetime care.

The killed and injured people were waiting to hear a concert by the group Sugarland as high winds swept through the area.

Fair officials originally attributed the scaffolding collapse to those strong winds. But questions were soon raised about both the state fair's handling of the preparations for the Sugarland concert.

The winds that toppled the stage at the Indiana State Fair on August 13 also affected other groups. A local symphony orchestra made the decision to cancel its outdoor concert due to the weather. It also urged its patrons to find shelter.

And then there is the issue of government regulation of temporary stages. The degree of such regulation, and the process for it, varies significantly not only by state, but by city. The resulting patchwork of regulation (or lack thereof) has implications for safety not only in Indiana, but in New York and other states.

Source: "Safety standards under a critical eye after stage collapse," USA Today, 8-17-11