Back in 2015, tragedy struck the making of American Made, the new Tom Cruise film due out in a few weeks domestically. A plane crash in Colombia killed two pilots who were working on the film and injured one more. Since then, lawsuits have been filed in the search for who to blame for the accident, and now the producers are taking legal action of their own. The producers are suing the company that owned the airplane, believing that they failed to inspect the safety of the plane.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, Cross Creek Pictures, Imagine Entertainment, Quadrant Pictures and Vendian Entertainment are suing S&S Aviation for the plane crash that took place on September 11, 2015 while flying to Medellin. During the making of American Made, a Piper/Smith Aerostar 600 crash-landed in Colombia. Aboard the plane was: Alan Purwin, one of Hollywood's most sought-after helicopter stunt operators; Carlos Berl, a well-qualified airman; and Jimmy Lee Garland, a partner at S&S, as well as a pilot. Purwin and Berl were killed in the crash, while Garland was left without feeling in much of his lower body.
The exact cause of the crash is highly disputed, but the producers of American Made, which follows Tom Cruise as a drug smuggler turned CIA pilot, are claiming indemnity against S&S Aviation. They claim that S&S was to blame in "failing to properly inspect, repair, maintain and ensure the airworthiness of the Subject Aircraft, as well as failing to properly brief and prepare the pilot in charge."
This is only the latest lawsuit in what is growing to be a complicated legal situation. The estates of Alan Purwin and Jimmy Lee Garland are already suing each other and the producers. Great American Insurance Company has also filed its own separate lawsuit, alleging the flight was illegal without proper certification. None of the parties are taking responsibility for what happened, and there's been a lot of back and forth on whose fault it was. The Berl family, for instance, are suing the producers for wrongful death and survival damages, alleging that the producers were told of unsafe flying conditions but rushed the flight anyway.
No one is entirely clear on who was flying the plane that day. Purwin's lawsuit suggests that it was Berl flying that day, while Berl's lawsuit unequivocally names Garland as the pilot. There are few available details on the crash.
The next development in the case is expected to happen on September 29, when a Los Angeles Supreme Court judge holds a summary judgment hearing. Coincidentally, this is the exact same day that American Made will be released in the United States. This tragic accident has begun to raise questions about safety in filmmaking. Sadly, this incident is not the only one of its kind in Hollywood.