Two pilots died in a 2015 plane crash while filming a stunt for the upcoming film “American Made”, and the families of the deceased pilots are holding the film’s star, Tom Cruise, partially responsible for their deaths.
According to court documents obtained by The Blast, the estates of pilots Alan Purwin and Carlos Berl — who died when the twin-engine Smith Aerostar 600 they were piloting crashed in the mountains during filming in Colombia — have launched a lawsuit, partially blaming Cruise and director Doug Liman for their deaths (a third pilot, Jimmy Lee Garland, survived the crash, but no longer has feeling in the lower half of his body).
In the lawsuit, the estates of Purwin and Berl claim that Cruise and director Doug Liman’s intention of filming a “high-risk, action-packed motion picture” created the circumstances that led to the crash.
“The demands of filming in Colombia, together with Cruise’s and director Doug Liman’s enthusiasm for multiple takes of lavish flying sequences, added hours to every filming day and added days to the schedule,” state the documents.
The wrongful death suit targets the producers of the film — Imagine Entertainment, Vendian Entertainment and Cross Creek Pictures — and alleges that pre-flight safety procedures were ignored in order to cut costs.
“Lapses in planning, coordinating, scheduling, and flight safety that were the Defendants’ responsibility resulted in an unqualified and unprepared pilot being pressed into service for a dangerous flight in a vintage aircraft across an unfamiliar mountain pass in bad weather,” allege the court documents.
Cruise and Liman are not named as defendants in the lawsuit, but the pilots’ families accuse them of being “negligent” in allowing the flight to take place without the standard security procedures, with the suit alleging that one of the film’s producers sent a formal complaint to the insurance company specifically singling out Liman and Cruise.
The suit also includes an email allegedly sent by Purwin before his death, describing “American Made” as “the most dangerous project I’ve ever encountered,” adding: “You have no idea the exposure TC and the entire Aerial Team is realizing every time we get in the air. There’s a very ‘thin line’ between keeping all aerial activities safe and having an accident. Trust me on this!”
In addition, the documents also indicate that the families of the pilots are suing each other, with Berl’s family filing a suit against sole survivor Garland.
According to People, neither the film’s studio, Universal, nor a rep for Cruise had any comment to offer.
In the film, Cruise stars as pilot Barry Seal, who smuggled drugs while working for the CIA during the 1980s. “American Made” is scheduled to be released on Sept. 29.