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FAMILIES SETTLE SUITS OVER AC/DC CONCERT DEATHS

Published: Thursday, Dec. 17 1992 12:00 a.m. MST

      The families of three teenagers killed during a Jan. 18, 1991, AC/DC concert at the Salt Palace have settled out of court with the rock band, Salt Lake County and others sued in the wake of the tragedy.

      Salt Lake County officials say their share of the settlements is less than $2 million.Two people traumatized by the 30-minute crush of fans at the concert have also settled their claims out of court with AC/DC, the county and others.

      Only one relative - the father of Logan teenager Curtis Child - has not settled his claim. Attorneys for Bruce Child meet Thursday with attorneys for the Australian band and other defendants named in his suit to negotiate a settlement. Salt Lake attorney Larry Keller is mediating the negotiations. Child's mother, Lucy, has settled her suit. The couple is divorced.

      Attorneys reported the settlements to 3rd District Judge Timothy Hansen Wednesday. However, the terms of the settlements are confidential, they said.

      Members of AC/DC originally fought to be dropped from the lawsuits, saying they weren't responsible for the deaths. However, the band has settled with everyone but Child. "It was the right thing to do," said Mike Mohrman, attorney for the band.

      Settlement negotiations began last summer, he said. The latest settlement with a Timpview High School teenager was finalized earlier this month, he said. All claims were settled "a long way" before trial, he said.

      Both the families and the defendants insisted the settlement be confidential, he said. "Confidentiality agreements tend to put the matter to bed forever - which is probably a good thing. People like finality."

      Salt Lake County officials say they don't know how much their insurance company paid the injured families and families of the dead teenagers.

      "I know it was less than $2 million because that's the limit of our policy," said Don Sawaya, chief deputy Salt Lake County attorney.

      The county's policy doesn't require the insurance company to tell them what the settlement was, and county officials don't plan to ask, Sawaya said.

      Taxpayers pay the premiums on the insurance policy as well as thousands of dollars annually for the maintenance and management of the Salt Palace. However, taxpayers are not affected by the settlement, Sawaya said. The settlement won't hike the county's premiums because the county switched insurance companies after the deaths at the Salt Palace.

      The public probably has a right to know how much the county's share of the settlement was, said Jeff Hunt, attorney for the Utah Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists.

      The deaths occurred in a building supported by taxpayer money and the lawsuit was settled through an insurance policy bought with taxpayer money, he said.

      But since county officials don't know and haven't tried to find out the amount of the settlement, "It precludes getting this information for the public," Hunt said.

      Since the teenagers' deaths, Salt Lake County has distanced itself from liability for the Salt Palace. Although taxpayers still pay the premiums, insurance on the Salt Palace is no longer in the county's name, said Sawaya. Instead, Spectacor Management Group holds the policy and lists the county as the insured, he said. Spectacor began managing the Salt Palace for the county several years ago.

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