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Taking Names: Sugarland sued over stage collapse

- - Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Sugarland facing lawsuit over Indiana stage collapse

Country duo Sugarland was named in a lawsuit filed Tuesday by 44 survivors of the Indiana State Fair stage collapse and family members of four people who died, by far the largest claim yet stemming from the tragedy.

Attorneys representing at least 20 law firms across Indiana, Ohio and Kentucky filed the complaint alleging breach of reasonable care to the victims in Marion Superior Court in Indianapolis.

The lawsuit seeks unspecified damages from Sugarland, producers, stage riggers and others associated with the Aug. 13 show. Stage rigging collapsed into spectators following a wind gust of at least 60 mph, killing seven people and injuring more than 40 others. Sugarland had not yet taken the stage when the collapse occurred.

Sugarland's contract specified the act had the final say on whether to cancel the concert due to weather, plaintiffs' attorney Mario Massillamany of Logansport, Ind., said in a news release.

"Unfortunately, this tragedy could have been prevented if the responsible parties had been concerned about the concertgoers that night," Mr. Massillamany said.

The contract reached between Sugarland's agent, Creative Artists Agency, and the Indiana State Fair Committee guaranteed the duo $300,500 to perform, $34,500 for sound, lights and catering, and 85 percent of gross box office receipts exceeding $470,000, Mr. Massillamany said.

"This is a devastating tragedy that has impacted hundreds of people," plaintiffs' co-counsel Scott Starr said. "It is critical to help the victims pay the medical bills and other financial expenses that they have incurred from this incident."

The plaintiffs include Lisa Hite of Cass County, who was with her 8-year-old custodial granddaughter in the area immediately in front of the stage called "the Sugar Pit."

"The injuries I sustained have left me unable to provide for my family. The financial and emotional strain this has caused has left a lasting impact on my family," said Ms. Hite, who is represented by Mr. Starr and Mr. Massillamany.

Sugarland's publicist didn't immediately return a call Tuesday seeking comment.

Nicki Minaj named Billboard's rising star

Nicki Minaj will have another moment to savor from her super year: Billboard is honoring her as its rising star of 2011.

She is slated to get the honor at Billboard's Women of the Year event on Dec. 1 in New York City.

Miss Minaj said Wednesday she was "deeply honored to be recognized by Billboard." She said she and her fans have come a "mighty long way" but are not close to where "God will take us."

The rapper and singer has emerged as one of music's most popular entertainers since releasing her debut album "Pink Friday" late last year. Her hits include "Super Bass" and "Moment 4 Life." And she'll have one of her biggest fans on hand at the event, as well: Taylor Swift is being honored as the woman of the year.

Swift invites James Taylor, Selena Gomez for tour's close

Taylor Swift closed her Speak Now World Tour with her best friend and the man her parents named her after.

The 21-year-old brought out James Taylor and Selena Gomez at her concert Tuesday night at New York's Madison Square Garden, the Associated Press reports.

Miss Swift said her parents named her after Mr. Taylor, and the two performed his hit "Fire and Rain." Mr. Taylor also played the guitar while Miss Swift performed her song "Fifteen."

Miss Gomez joined the country singer earlier in the night, where the two sang a duet version of Miss Gomez's hit tune "Who Says."

Miss Swift's tour has featured guest appearances from Nicki Minaj to Usher to T.I. to Jason Mraz.

Robin Gibb says he's 'on the road to recovery'

Bee Gee Robin Gibb said on his website that he is recovering from a serious illness.

The star said he has been "very unwell" but is now "on the road to recovery."

Mr. Gibb's extremely gaunt appearance and the cancellation of several public appearances have sparked fears that he is seriously ill. He was hospitalized last month with colon inflammation and other problems but has been discharged.

The 61-year-old Mr. Gibb thanked his fans Wednesday for their messages of support. He said he was grateful for their prayers and good wishes.

The Bee Gees have sold millions of records and are best known for the "Saturday Night Fever" soundtrack which includes the hit "Stayin' Alive."

• Compiled from Web and wire reports.