Will Paramount be liable for a 'Transformers 3' stunt gone bad?

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Will Paramount be liable for a 'Transformers 3' stunt gone bad?

Tue Oct 05, 2010 @ 05:48PM PST

By Matthew Belloni

Cedillo,gabriela The "Transformers 3" extra who suffered brain damage in a botched stunt on location in Indiana has now sued Paramount Pictures for negligence. Is the studio responsible for what was clearly a terrible accident?

Today's lawsuit claims that Paramount and the film's location managers breached a duty of care to Gabriela Cedillo, 24, by, among other things, failing to properly weld a thick slab of metal that became dislodged from a stunt car, crashing into a another car driven by Cedillo and slicing her skull.

The woman's attorney, Todd A. Smith, told reporters in Chicago this morning that Cedillo is partially paralyzed and unable to speak. The lawsuit, brought by Cedillo's brother Adolfo Romo as her guardian, claims upward of $50,000, but Smith said the actual amount of damages would be much higher (in Illinois, damages are set by juries).

Production on "Transformers 3" continues, but Paramount issued a statement this afternoon expressing remorse that the Sept. 1 accident occurred: "Our thoughts, prayers and best wishes are with Gabriela, her family and loved ones. The production will continue to provide all the help we can to Gabriela and her family during this difficult time."

Extras on movie sets routinely sign liability waivers. But even with a waiver, as with all negligence cases, a jury would be asked to evaluate whether the studio owed a duty of care to Cedillo and whether it took reasonable precautions to prevent a tragedy like this. According to the suit, Paramount "knew or should have known that crashing a stunt car at over 50 mph within 50 feet of 'extras' or other film persons could cause injury or bodily harm to the individuals on the set."

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The Hollywood Reporter, Esq. blog focuses on how the entertainment and media industries are impacted and influenced by the law. It is edited by Matthew Belloni with contributions from veteran legal reporter Eriq Gardner and others. Before joining The Hollywood Reporter, Belloni was a lawyer at an entertainment litigation firm in Los Angeles. He writes a column for THR devoted to entertainment law. Gardner is a New York-based writer and legal journalist. Send tips or comments to [email protected]

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