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Age-discrimination lawsuits are not uncommon in Hollywood. What’s unusual about the one BJ Davis filed Thursday is the allegation that a co-worker tackled him with Davis’ age in mind.
Davis now is 63, he said, and worked in stunts from 1978 until 2013. In the latter year, he said, mistreatment on the set of Sony’s The Amazing Spider-Man 2 ended his career.
First, he said, he nearly couldn’t get work on the superhero sequel, despite his formidable career (he holds world records for helicopter stunts, he said). He alleged that stunt coordinator James Armstrong of Armstrong Action told him the production would only hire New York stuntmen, so he moved from Los Angeles to New York, only to learn when the production hired him that numerous nonlocal stuntmen were flown in to work on the set.
“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,” states the complaint.
On set, Davis says Armstrong consistently assigned younger stuntmen the “premium” stunts that were worth more pay. He says younger stuntmen made disparaging remarks about Davis’ age, and Armstrong “shared the same discriminatory view, and his attitude actually encouraged the harassment.”
“Then, things got even uglier,” continues the complaint.
Davis said he was shooting a scene on or around June 8, 2013, after a safety meeting in which the stuntmen were told they would have no physical contact with one another. He says another stuntperson rushed him during one of the final takes and, states the complaint, “at full speed attempted a clothesline tackle of plaintiff, coming from his blindside. The blow stunned plaintiff and made him stagger.”
“The stunt professional who delivered this blow later told plaintiff that he was sorry, but that Mr. Armstrong had ordered the tackle. Mr. Armstrong ordered this violence toward plaintiff due to his age,” continues the complaint.
The injuries from the tackle were so extensive that they ended his career in stunt work, said Davis.
He said he suffered injuries to his shoulder, wrist, hand, back, neck and teeth, including nerve damage, and underwent multiple surgeries following the incident.
Afterward, he said, the producers “wrongfully and maliciously removed his name from the movie credits,” and he has had to “fight a continuing battle” to remain credited for the movie on IMDb.
He made an extensive set of claims including discrimination under New York City and state laws, retaliation (for the removal of his credit), intentional misrepresentation and concealment (for telling him the scene in which he was tackled would involve no physical contact), infliction of emotional distress (film credits “have sentimental value” for entertainment professionals) and several contract clauses. He claims $50,000 on 13 clauses.
Director Marc Webb is not a defendant, but production companies Sony, Columbia, Arad Productions and Matt Tolmach Productions are.
Sony and Marvel declined comment. The Hollywood Reporter has reached out to Armstrong, Arad and Tolmach.
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