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Suit filed over 'Island' claims

June 26, 2008|Richard Verrier | Times Staff Writer

Nearly four years after DreamWorks SKG wrapped shooting of "The Island" at Downey Studios, the owner of the movie production facility is still grappling with claims from workers who alleged they became ill from exposure to contaminants at the site.

The latest development in the controversy came Tuesday when Industrial Realty Group filed a lawsuit contending that DreamWorks and insurance giant International Risk Group refused to cover $300,000 in legal expenses that the company had incurred.

Several workers sued Downey Studios in 2006, contending that they were sickened by exposure to toxic materials, including asbestos and mold, while building props for the set of the 2005 science-fiction thriller.

The studio, located in southeast Downey near Imperial Highway and Lakewood Boulevard, was once the site of a Boeing Co. plant.

The Los Angeles County Superior Court lawsuit alleges that DreamWorks, Greenwich Insurance Co. and International Risk Group failed to honor agreements to indemnify Industrial Realty Group against such claims.

Downey Studios executives previously have dismissed the workers' complaints as spurious, citing extensive environmental testing that concluded that the former aerospace manufacturing facility was a "healthy and safe environment."

Representatives of neither Industrial Realty Group nor DreamWorks would comment on the suit. A spokesman for Greenwich Insurance could not be reached for comment.

Once the hub of America's space race, where Apollo spacecraft and space shuttles were assembled, the sprawling complex has been transformed in recent years into a film production center, hosting such movies as "Santa Clause 3" and "Van Helsing." Southern California-based Industrial Realty Group acquired the property in 2004.

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richard.verrier@latimes.com

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