Despite the best efforts of Sugarland’s legal team, an Indiana Superior Court judge, the Honorable Theodore Sosin, has ordered Nettles to testify on behalf of the band, which is named in several lawsuits filed in the wake of the Aug. 13, 2011, tragedy that left seven dead and dozens more injured when 60 to 70 mile per hour winds toppled a stage mere moments before the multi-platinum country duo was to hit it.
Co-defendant Mid-America Sound Corp. — the company that provided, erected and rigged the unsound stage — requested nettles’ deposition, which is set to take place sometime between April 1 and April 15. In a round of high-stakes finger pointing, Nettles will answer Mid-America’s claims that the band negligently neglected calls to delay its performance, keeping fans waiting in harm’s way on that ill-fated Indiana night. A deposed Indiana State Fair Commission executive testified in January that the band prioritized its own scheduling concerns over those posed by severe weather warnings. According to Friday’s ruling, Nettles' deposition will focus on the singer's personal knowledge of those warnings.
With 20/20 hindsight, it’s plain to see that the band may have made a bad call. But is it really reasonable to suggest that the duo flippantly gambled with lives of its fans in order to make the next gig? Wouldn’t that also mean they would have been gambling with their own lives as well? Is it reasonable to consider that Nettles & Co. were prepared to perform on a potential deathtrap of a stage in order to keep the trains running on time? Is that the implication here?
Or was Sugarland unreasonable in expecting Mid-America Sound Corp. to provide a stage that could withstand potentially severe weather conditions well-known to the region?
The band’s lawyers — who recently outraged a great many with the forehead-slap suggestion that stage-collapse victims were to blame for their own deaths and injuries — fought tooth and nail to delay Nettles’ court-ordered foray under oath. Prior to Friday’s ruling, said legal eagles had angled for more time to gather information and prep their client for deposition, claiming that Nettles and bandmate Kristian Bush — who was spared a subpoena to testify — were “be[ing] bullied into doing so on short notice …”
Mid-America’s attorneys had initially requested to depose Nettles this week, while Sugarland’s lawyers had proposed pushing the proceedings back as far as May, citing, you guessed it, scheduling conflicts — the band is currently in rehearsals for a five-month tour which kicks off April 5 in Toledo, Ohio. "I don't understand why the whole world must stand still because your client is going on tour," Judge Sosin said to Sugarland lawyer James Milstone upon rejecting that request. In Friday’s ruling, Sosin approved a revised April 1 through 15 time table proposed by the band’s attorneys.
AP’s got more deets.