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Thursday, July 11, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Stuntman Says Boss Ordered Him Injured

LOS ANGELES (CN) - A stunt coordinator for "Amazing Spiderman 2" ordered a stuntman to injure another one in an "act of malicious age discrimination" that ended the older man's career, the longtime stuntman claims in court.

B.J. Davis worked as a stuntman for 35 years before the "malicious age discrimination" ended his career two years ago, he claims in his Oct. 8 complaint in Superior Court.

Davis says he was 60 years old when stunt agency Armstrong Enterprises told him it was only hiring stunt professionals based in New York for the Spiderman movie. When he moved to New York to get the job, paying for his own airfare and lodging, Davis says, he discovered other L.A.-based stunt performers had been put up in swanky hotels and that the production had covered their first class airfare.

"Plaintiff realized that he had been told that only New York stunt professionals were being hired in an attempt to prevent him from working on the movie due to his age," the lawsuit states.

Defendant stunt coordinator James Armstrong "made no secret of the fact that he felt plaintiff was too old to work as a stunt man," and encouraged others to ridicule him about his age, Davis claims. On June 8, 2013, he says, things "got uglier" during a scene in which characters fled from a grocery store, and another stuntman blindsided him with a tackle.

"The stunt professional who delivered this blow later told plaintiff that he was sorry, but that Mr. Armstrong had ordered the tackle," the complaint states. "Mr. Armstrong ordered this violence toward plaintiff due to his age, because he felt plaintiff was too old and he did not want him on the set."

Davis claims he suffered nerve damage to his left shoulder, wrist and hand, his back, neck and teeth, requiring multiple surgeries and ending his career as a stuntman.

"To add insult to injury, after plaintiff ?led for worker's compensation bene?ts and left the set to get treatment for his injuries, defendants removed his name from the movie credits even though he was actually in numerous scenes that made the ?nal cut of the movie, and he has had to ?ght a continuing battle just to get his name listed in the online credits (on the Internet Movie Database)," the lawsuit states.

Davis, also a producer and writer, is a frequent filer in court. Davis and his wife Julia Davis filed a federal pro se complaint against Sony in June, alleging he was "subjected to age discrimination and retaliation for his prior political activities as the former Secretary for Charlton Heston and as a SAG [Screen Actors Guild] Safety Representative."

Davis claimed in the June 8 lawsuit that he was instrumental in stopping a classification of stunt men and women that "would have undermined the right to work for average stunt people, women and minorities while creating a monopoly by SAG Board members of the Screen Actors Guild."

"Davis also forced the Screen Actors Guild to represent stunt coordinators contractually. He rallied and united the stunt community, forming the National League of SAG Stunt Performers to legally sue the Screen Actors Guild and thereby achieving the desired outcome," the June lawsuit suit stated.

Davis also claimed he was "purposely ostracized" on set and was "repeatedly given broken radios or radios with dead batteries" and had to "drive defective stunt vehicles with non-functioning air conditioning."

He voluntarily dismissed the case in July.

Davis has filed 11 lawsuits since 2004, according to the Courthouse News Service database.

Armstrong's father Andy Armstrong told the British newspaper The Independent that Davis' claims were "absurd, inflammatory and untrue," but also that the stunt industry is "absolutely age discriminatory."

"It's our job on the set to ensure safety, and it's absurd to think that a 60-year-old could perform as well in a dangerous and stressful situation as a 40-year-old. That's a fact of life," Armstrong said, according to The Independent.

Sony spokesman Jason Allen declined to comment.

Davis seeks $50,000 on 13 counts, including discrimination, retaliation, intentional infliction of emotional distress, interference with contract, concealment and unfair competition. Named as defendants are Columbia Pictures Industries, Sony Pictures, Marvel Enterprises, Arad Productions, Matt Tolmach Productions, Armstrong Action Enterprises, and Armstrong.

Davis is represented by Woodland Hills attorney Jay Rothman.

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