Personal Injury

Movie Producers Seek Indemnity In Fatal Airplane-Crash Suits

Tom Cruise Wikimedia Commons 148x210 Movie Producers Seek Indemnity In Fatal Airplane Crash SuitsAn airplane crash that killed two men and seriously injured a third while filming the Tom Cruise movie American Made in 2015 has spawned multiple lawsuits, including one filed Sept. 8 by four production companies seeking indemnity for damages awarded against them in other lawsuits.

The lawsuit, filed in California, seeks to hold S&S Aviation, a Georgia company responsible for maintaining the airplane that crashed, at least partly responsible for any damages and lawyer fees resulting from the wrongful death and personal injury claims the production companies face.

The movie “American Made” is set to be released later this month. It depicts the real-life story of Barry Seal, a TWA pilot who started running drugs and guns for the Colombian Medellin Cartel before being recruited by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency in the 1980s in an effort to capture cocaine cartel leader Pablo Escobar.

According to the Daily Report, One of the airplanes used in the production, a twin-engine Smith Aerostar 600, was flying from Santa Fe de Antiogia, Colombia, to Medellin when it crashed into the Andes during a storm in 2015. Pilot Carlos Berl and Alan Purwin, whose company Heliblack owned the airplane, were killed. Jimmy Garland, S&S Aviation CEO and partner, survived but his injuries made him paraplegic.

The families of Mr. Berl and Mr. Purwin have filed separate wrongful death lawsuits in Los Angeles Superior Court against the four production companies: Cross Creek Pictures, Imagine Entertainment, Quadrant Pictures, and Vendian Entertainment. Several other defendants are named in those lawsuits.

Mr. Berl’s family is also suing Mr. Garland and S&S in Cherokee (Georgia) County Superior Court, alleging Mr. Garlans failed to properly instruct Mr. Berl on the plane’s operation and flight preparation.

Two other lawsuits involving Heliblack’s insurer Great Maerican Insurance, and Allianz Global Risks US, the insurer for Mena Productions, are pending in U.S. District Courts in California and Georgia.

The production companies allege that S&S and its employees failed to “properly inspect, repair, maintain and ensure airworthiness” of the airplane. They also claim the company failed to provide “adequate pre-flight preparation briefing, instruction, training and supervision” to the pilot in command.