20th Century Fox has settled out of court with the family of Joi Harris, a motorcycle rider who was killed while performing a stunt on the Vancouver set of Deadpool 2 in 2017. The amount of the settlement was not disclosed.
Michael Buckley, a Florida-based attorney who represented Harris’ relatives, said the studio was very accommodating in its dealing with the family.
“There was a whole issue of stunt driver safety, and the fact is the people at Fox were extremely concerned about that and it drove their decision-making,” Buckley told The Hollywood Reporter, adding, “They dealt with this very responsibly.”
Another source with knowledge of the settlement confirmed that the matter had been successfully resolved.
Several members of the stunt community said they were pleased with the news, though saddened by the memory of Harris’ death.
“I think Joi’s family deserves a large settlement, but how do you put a price on your daughter’s head?” says Melissa Stubbs, a professional stunt performer, “No money in the world is worth what happened. Her death was senseless and could have been avoided.”
“I’m glad the family got something,” said another stunt performer, “This never should have happened.”
Harris was killed in August 2017 while performing a stunt that involved riding a high-powered Ducati motorcycle down a ramp laid atop a set of stairs. According to several people who had been working with her in the days leading up to the stunt, Harris was not properly prepared for the stunt. When it came time to do the scene, Harris rode the motorcycle down the stairs but then lost control. The bike, which Harris still clung to, careened across a street and hurled her into a building, killing her instantly.
Initially, Fox’s insurer in the matter, Chubb, had indicated it would fight the family on every front. Buckley said he received an “offensive” letter from Chubb in which the firm “staked out every defense under the sun,” Buckley said, “They said they were going to fight every single thing.”
Buckley, in turn, was prepared to go to war with the studio.
“We were going to sue everybody,” Buckley said. Included in his initial list of potential targets were several corporate entities associated with the film, including 20th Century Fox, Marvel and Maximum Effort, the production company owned and run by Deadpool’s star, Ryan Reynolds.
Buckley said he was even prepared to go after certain individuals on the crew that he had identified as being potentially culpable. In the end, it wasn’t necessary.
Buckley got a call from Fox executives, who told him they would deal with him directly, essentially cutting Chubb, the insurer, out of the discussion.
The funds from the settlement won’t be made available to the family until the case moves through probate court in New York, where Harris lived.
“They were very responsible, good people and it seemed to me that they were well aware of the issue of stunt driver safety, and even seemed to be on the cutting edge of it,” Buckley said, “I was very impressed.”
Chubb declined to discuss the settlement, saying in a statement, “Per company policy, we don’t discuss who our clients are.” 20th Century Fox and its new parent company, Disney, declined to comment. Harris’ family also declined to comment.
“Joi’s mom lost the only other person in this world who was there,” Buckley said, “Her husband died a few years ago, it’s a very sad situation.”