Transformer actor wins $18.5m for stunt gone wrong

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An extra who was helping provide background action for a dramatic stunt being filmed for Transformers: Dark of the Moon has received a payout of $18.5 million, after the stunt went wrong and she was left with brain damage.

So what happened, and could it happen here?

The case

The studios faced legal action from Gabriella Cedillo, who was in her car for a scene at the time of the accident on 1 September 2010.
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As part of the law suit her lawyers said that a cable pulling another car in the stunt snapped, crashed through Cedillo's windscreen, and caused significant damage. She was immediately taken for emergency surgery, and her lawyer claimed she had lost a third of the top of her head.

The lawyers said that neither Paramount Pictures nor DreamWorks Studios, the film's production partners, had a permit for fireworks or explosive devices on the day, and that a "completely inadequate superficial weld had been applied in a failed effort to secure the bracket to the car"

They added that the studios had offered to pay her medical bills - which were $350,000 in 2010, but that no payment had ever been made. She is still having treatment at the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago and is now 26.

The studios eventually agreed a settlement, approved by a Cook County judge this week. Her brother, Rudy Romo, told NBC: "We're hoping for the best, for her to continue her education, maybe some day get married and so on. But, you know, we'll just have to wait and see,"

A Paramount spokesman was reported as saying: "We are pleased that the Cedillo family has agreed to move forward with the settlement. This was a tragic accident and our thoughts and prayers remain with Gabriella."

Could it happen here?

In the UK, high-profile, stunt-packed productions are a little thinner on the ground. However, it seems compensation culture has come to even the humble 'stunts' we cobble together:

Some recent examples include:

£24,000 compensation for Lorraine Mallon, who slipped a disc after being kneed in the head by Belfast's Lord Mayor at a photo shoot in 2007. She sued the council.

£2,500 (estimated) for a former BBC Radio Leeds disc-jockey, tackled by two members of the Bradford Bulls Rugby league team during a Children in Need broadcast in 2010. The BBC agreed to settle the claim.

Undisclosed compensation for Jeff Lipman, 48, from Beaconsfield in Buckinghamshire, who was playing an extra in The Flood, an apocalyptic drama about global warming. He was involved in a "violent scuffle' for a scene when he was pushed, tripped over a blanket, and broke his elbow.

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