In September 2016, Gersowitz Libo & Korek, P.C. filed a wrongful death lawsuit against several production companies involved with the movie American Made, formerly known as Mena, starring Tom Cruise. The firm filed the lawsuit on behalf of the estate of Carlos Berl, who died in a plane crash that occurred during the movie’s filming in South America.
Plenty of planes go down each year in the mountains and jungles of South America. But this particular plane, a twin-engine Piper Smith Aerostar 600, was ferrying three pilots who were working on a film. The nearby villagers heard an explosion-like sound when they stumbled upon the wreckage. When they returned with rescue workers, only one of the occupants on the plane had survived the crash.
The Legal Battles
This is the second wrongful-death suit to come out of the American Made crash. The estate of Berl, the Colombian civilian and pilot student, is suing producers Cross Creek Pictures, Imagine Entertainment, and Vendian Entertainment for wrongful death and other damages. The lawsuit is alleging that the production and aviation companies were in such a rush to wrap up filming and save money, that they ignored basic safety considerations. The estate is also suing survivor Jimmy Lee Garland and Alan Purwin, the other fatal victim, alleging negligence.
To complicate matters, Great American Insurance, which initially indemnified the production companies, has also filed suit in a federal district court in California. The suit disclaims responsibility and relief from having to pay under the $50 million general coverage policy. The lawsuit alleges that the flight may have been performed illegally.
The judge has placed a gag order on the ongoing legal proceedings. However, court documents allege that the production companies and other parties were behaving unlawfully and carelessly.
The Interviews and Investigations
Interviews with those involved and an analysis of court and FAA documents reveal other troubling developments. Federal documents show that Purwin and one of his companies were on the Federal Aviation Administration’s radar. The FAA routinely conducts surveillance of movie sets and pilots with regard to pilot checks, equipment installations and protocol issues.
Purwin had a reputation for taking unnecessary risks and being dangerous. Three people in the Hollywood flying community say in interviews that Purwin was categorized in a group of risk-taking pilots who were deemed to be the next ones most likely to perish in a crash.
What all of this means for the wrongful death lawsuits is still unclear. But one thing is clear: the lawsuits will move forward in the hopes of putting a dent in the pocketbook of the motion picture industry to make them understand the importance of putting safety before profit at all times.
Have You Been Injured In an Accident? Call Us.
If you or a loved one has been injured in an accident caused by the negligence or reckless actions of another party, you should discuss your legal options with an attorney as you may be entitled to compensation.
The New York personal injury attorneys at Gersowitz Libo & Korek, P.C. advocate for our clients’ full financial recovery through hard work and aggressive lawyering. For more information, please contact us at 1-800-529-9997 to schedule a free consultation with one of our attorneys.