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Stuntman sues over `Pirates' injury

August 04, 2007|Robert W. Welkos | Times Staff Writer

Johnny Depp's stunt double in the "Pirates of the Caribbean" films has sued the Walt Disney Co. and producer Jerry Bruckheimer for negligence stemming from a practice stunt that landed him in the hospital with serious injuries.

The accident occurred in July 2005 as stuntman Tony Angelotti was rehearsing a "human yo-yo stunt" designed to simulate Depp's character, Capt. Jack Sparrow, falling and rolling in "Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest."

The lawsuit is unusual because stunt performers rarely sue, believing they could jeopardize future work.

Angelotti was attached by a harness to a crane with a cord wrapped around his waist, the suit states. He was then released from a height of 30 to 40 feet and was to perform five "roll-out turns."

But by the time he reached the end of the cord, the suit alleges, the tension of the cord was such that it caused the stuntman to immediately "jackknife." He fractured his pelvis, suffered injuries to his bladder, femoral artery, knees and legs, and suffered internal bleeding.

The suit claims that Angelotti also suffered mental anguish and emotional distress.

Angelotti, a native of Tallahassee, Fla., who was an award-winning gymnast at the University of Michigan, was honored last May at the Taurus World Stunt Awards, which is the stunt world's equivalent of the Oscars.

In an interview at the time of the award, Angelotti talked about the accident: "I was harnessed from my side and down to my ankle on one side. So, one side of me kept going and the other side stopped like a human wishbone."

He said he was in intensive care for four days, was hospitalized for 2 1/2 weeks and spent time in a wheelchair and walker before learning to walk again.

The lawsuit, filed in Los Angeles County Superior Court, alleges that unsafe equipment contributed to his injuries.

Neither Bruckheimer nor the Disney Co. could be reached for comment. Angelotti also could not be reached for comment.

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robert.welkos@latimes.com

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