Veteran stuntman BJ Davis has sued the stunt coordinator of The Amazing Spider-Man 2 — along with Sony Pictures, Marvel and others — for age discrimination, claiming that he “made no secret of the fact that he felt plaintiff was too old to work as a stunt man.” The case, his suit states, “represents a particularly violent instance of age discrimination and exposes the pervasive problem of age discrimination in the stunt industry.” Columbia Pictures, Avi Arad Productions and Matt Talmach Productions also are named as defendants.
Davis, 63, claimed in a 55-page suit filed today in Los Angeles Superior Court (read it here) that stunt coordinator James Armstrong “consistently refused to give plaintiff ‘premium’ stunts, instead giving a disproportionate amount of the premium stunt work to younger stunt professionals.”
“Throughout the production, younger stunt professionals made disparaging remarks to Plaintiff suggesting he was too old to do stunts,” the suit states. “Though Mr. Armstrong was aware of these remarks, he did nothing to stop this age-related harassment. On the contrary, he shared the same discriminatory view and his attitude actually encouraged the harassment.”
The suit also alleges that Armstrong ordered one of the other stuntmen to intentionally injure Davis with a body blow that ended his career. “Mr. Armstrong was supervising and managing a scene that involved various stunt professionals fleeing a grocery store,” the suit states. “Prior to filming this scene, a safety meeting was held where it was stated that there was to be no physical contact or stunts scripted or impromptu creations. The scene was filmed numerous times. None of the other stunt professionals had any physical contact of any significance with one another. However, during one of the final takes, if not the final take, one of the stunt professionals running at full speed attempted a clothesline tackle of plaintiff, coming from his blind side. … 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, because he felt plaintiff was too old and he did not want him on the set.”
Davis, who has more than 130 stunt credits dating to the original Battlestar Galactica series, said in his suit that he was so injured by the blind-side hit that he had to undergo multiple surgeries for injuries to his shoulder, wrist, back and neck. “The injuries from this incident were so severe,” the suit states, “that plaintiff’s career was ended and he will never be able to work as a stunt professional again.”
Jay S. Rothman and Kenneth R. Myers of Jay S. Rothman & Associates in Woodland Hills are representing Davis in the case, which seeks at least $50,000 in damages for each of the 12 causes of action. They include unlawful discriminatory practices, retaliation, concealment, bad faith and unfair competition.