Law firm Hodes Milman, LLP filed a wrongful death lawsuit against several production companies involved with the movie American Made, formerly known as Mena and starring Tom Cruise. The lawsuit was filed on behalf of the family of Carlos Berl, who died in a plane crash that occurred during the movie’s filming in South America.
The suit alleges that the production companies allowed an unsuitable and negligently dangerous flight to occur without proper supervision or training, resulting in the plane crash killing two of its three occupants. The production companies were responsible for ensuring that flights in connection with or in support of the production were operated in a safe manner.
“This has been a troubled production from the start and has cost the lives of two people,” said Partner Daniel Hodes of Hodes Milman, LLP . “Even prior to traveling to South America, Carlos repeatedly informed the production companies that he had insufficient flight experience in that particular aircraft and required flight instruction prior to flying. His requests were completely ignored.”
Berl’s family is also represented by Senior Trial Partner Jeff Korek of Gersowitz Libo & Korek P.C. as well as Partner Justin Green of Kreindler & Kreindler LLP, a well-known aviation law firm.
“The movie production disregarded very basic safety procedures and did not properly plan or supervise the flight,” said Green, who is himself a pilot. “The dangerous flight should have never been permitted to take place. The film’s crew was rushing back to Medellin because they were behind schedule, and as a result, cost two crew members their lives.”
On September 11, 2015, the twin-engine plane, a Ted Smith/Piper Aerostar 600 (registration number N164HH) took off from a remote dirt airfield near the jungle filming location carrying Berl, Hollywood stunt pilot Alan Purwin, and pilot in command Jimmy Lee Garland.
Another helicopter carrying movie star Tom Cruise traveled the same treacherous path through the Andes Mountains ten minutes earlier and arrived safely in Medellin, while the Aerostar plane carrying Berl and other crew members never made it. Authorities received calls from local residents about the plane crash about ten minutes after its departure.
Korek added, “Safety improvements must be implemented by the movie industry so that other families don’t suffer tragic losses due to improper planning and safety management.”
American Made tells the story of Barry Seal, a pilot hired to fly for the Medellin drug cartel of notorious Colombian drug lord Pablo Escobar. The film is being produced by several well-established Hollywood production companies, including Cross Creek Pictures, Imagine Entertainment, Quadrant Pictures, and Vendian Entertainment.