CBS has just lost a lawsuit in which the network was sued over a security guard’s death that happened while on set for the hit crime drama NCIS. The judgment, which resulted in the man’s family being awarded over $10 million, was announced just after 5pm on the evening of Sept. 30, 2014.
The 52-year-old security guard, Julio Villamariona, was struck by a CBS production van that was in the midst of transporting the show’s crew members, after the driver reportedly suffered a medical emergency and lost control of the vehicle. Villamariona survived the original impact, but passed away in the ambulance while on the way to the hospital. During the lawsuit, the network admitted the fact that they should have been aware of the driver’s aforementioned medical condition, and therefore were at fault for the incident. The trial itself was said to be primarily focused on the monetary amount given to the family, a widow and three adult children. The family’s lawyer has since given a statement detailing his pride surrounding what he feels to be the family’s bravery in terms of standing up to such a high-profile entity as CBS.
The recent CBS lawsuit does not mark the first time that a crew member has died by way of a freak accident while on the set for a popular film or television show. In September of 2012, a staffer who was working on the set of Disney’s The Lone Ranger died due to an apparent drowning. The death was said to occur while crew members were preparing to film an action scene that took place underwater, although the crew member was not a stunt performer and was not said to have died during filming, leading to a lengthy investigation in order to discern full details concerning how the man’s death took place. It was later revealed that his death occurred while he was cleaning out an underwater tank in order to prepare it for the aforementioned underwater scene. The accident took place in the northern region of Los Angeles County, at the Polsa Rosa Ranch. The movie’s production company, Silver Bullet Productions Inc., was heavily fined by the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health for various state labor code violations. These violations included not having an additional diver standing by in case of such an accident occurring, and also for not giving the deceased diver a full check up in order to determine his fitness ability was substantial enough to go through with the underwater task.
It is also not the first time that CBS has been sued for an incident that took place on the aforementioned crime drama NCIS. Just last month, the network was brought to court over an alleged copyright infringement concerning a flatulent hippo puppet. Folkmanis Inc. claims that the network violated their trademark when they began to sell plush replicas of the puppet, which has appeared on more than a dozen episodes of the show. The company says that while they agreed to let the network use their product for the purpose of a few select episodes of the series, they in no way agreed to allow the network’s store to sell its likeness. The outcome of the lawsuit has yet to be determined.
CBS has not yet given any statement regarding the outcome of the recent lawsuit in which the victim’s family was awarded $10 million following the man’s death on the set of NCIS. The family, however, is said to be incredibly grateful for the outcome and will use the money to help move on following the tragedy.
By Rebecca Grace