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American Made: Producers of Tom Cruise movie sued for wrongful death over plane crash

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Courtesy of Cross Creek Pictures

Producers behind the Tom Cruise drug thriller American Made are the subject of a new wrongful death lawsuit filed Wednesday after a plane used for the movie crashed in September 2015 and killed two people, according to court documents acquired by EW.

The estate of Carlos Berl — the Colombian civilian and pilot student who died in the crash — sued Cross Creek Pictures, Imagine Entertainment, Quadrant Pictures, Vendian Entertainment, and the estate of the other decedent, Alan Purwin, and others, alleging the defendants were “so negligently, unlawfully and carelessly supervised, prepared, instructed, operated, entrusted, piloted, flew, controlled, and directed the Subject Aircraft so as to cause and/or allow it to collide with terrain, grievously injuring Plaintiff’s decedent, Carlos Berl, who perished as a result of the injuries sustained in the crash,” according to the lawsuit.

Berl was invited to the production of American Made, then called Mena, in Colombia, according to the lawsuit. Before he left the U.S., Berl allegedly told “the defendants he had insufficient flight experience in the Subject Aircraft and required flight instruction and familiarization with the aircraft before he could safely pilot it.” The ensuing flight was rushed, according to the lawsuit, for budgetary concerns on the project, which just wrapped filming there. Purwin was on board to provide extra oversight, while Jimmy Lee Garland — the third member of the flight who survived — was tasked with piloting and instructing, according to the lawsuit.

Berl’s lawsuit seeks an unspecified amount of damages to be determined at a jury trial to make up for loss earnings and for to help with “funeral and burial expenses.”

Producers for American Made were sued for wrongful death in April by Purwin’s widow, Kathryn. Cross Creek, Imagine, Vendian, and Quadrant Pictures were also named as defendants, as was Berl’s estate.

Starring Cruise, Domhnall Gleeson, Lola Kirke, and Jesse Plemons, American Made is inspired by the adventures of drug-smuggler Barry Seal, who was recruited by the CIA to help take down Pablo Escobar. Doug Liman is directing. It’s slated for a Sept. 29, 2017 release.

Cross Creek did not comment. Imagine did not respond to EW’s request for comment. Universal, the distributor for American Made, had no comment.

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