Tom Cruise, the CIA…and Great American Insurance

It’s a story of a small plane battling the elements, exotic locations and a mysterious crash. And then there’s the movie plot…

Tom Cruise, the CIA…and Great American Insurance

Insurance News

By Allie Sanchez

Image by Gage Skidmore, Flickr

The film may be American Made, but its troubles have their roots in Columbia.

The production companies behind the Tom Cruise movie about a pilot recruited by the Central Intelligence Agency to help nab narcotics kingpin Pablo Escobar has run into some turbulence with their insurer, Great American Insurance.

According to a report by Hollywood Reporter, Great American Insurance filed a federal lawsuit against production companies Cross Creek Pictures, Imagine Entertainment, Vendian Entertainment, Quadrant Pictures, and other defendants.

The suit is one among the many that commenced after production of “American Made” stalled following a plane crash in Colombia. A Smith Aerostar 600 crashed in the country following weather troubles, which resulted in the death of Alan Purwin and Colombian Carlos Berl, and the injury of Lee Garland.

Among the lawsuits filed was that by the family of Purwin in April 2016, which alleged that the producers “failed to ensure that Carlos Berl was competent, qualified, rested and sufficiently informed for the flight” while at the helm of the plane.

Berl’s family also filed their own complaint, holding producers accountable for rushing crew members to Colombia following filming delays.

The legal circus does not end there. The producers have also thrown lawsuits at each other hoping to cash in on the $50 million coverage provided by Great American Insurance for a policy protecting against “bodily injury” related to the plane crash.

Great American has said in its suit that it is under no obligation to defend the estate of Berl and indemnify the wrongful deaths arising from the accidents, reversing its previous position on the matter.

The complaint by the insurer says that the circumstances “suggest the possibility that, at the time of the accident, the aircraft was being used for an unlawful purpose, or for a purpose not designated in the declarations of the policy, and that such use was with the knowledge and consent of an ‘insured,’ or an executive officer, partner, or managing agent of an ‘insured.’”

Further, Great American pointed out that the aircraft may not have been operated by a designated individual or piloted by someone “properly certified, qualified and rated under the applicable law for the operation involved.”

The insurance firm also alleged that Berl was a “student pilot” and as such needed supervision from a certified flight instructor on board the aircraft.

“As a result of the foregoing, Great American has no duty to defend the estate of Carlos Berl, Cross Creek Productions, Cross Creek Pictures, Quadrant, Vendian and Imagine against the claims asserted.”

The firm is also seeking reimbursements for expenses disbursed to date.

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