Tom Cruise film ‘American Made’ is tangled in lawsuits after deadly plane crash

Two people died when a plane carrying crew members for the film "American Made," starring Tom Cruise, crashed in Colombia in 2015.
(Raul Arboleda / AFP/Getty Images)

The upcoming Tom Cruise movie “American Made” is ensnared in lawsuits related to a plane crash during production in Colombia in 2015 that resulted in the deaths of two of the film’s crew members, and an insurer that covered the plane wants nothing to do with the legal battle.

Great American Insurance Co., based in Cincinnati, is asking a federal court in Los Angeles to determine if it is responsible for defending parties in twolawsuits brought by relatives of the deceased.

Hollywood stunt pilot Alan Purwin and another man, Carlos Berl, were killed in the 2015 crash of a small aircraft flying from the town of Santa Fe de Antioquia to the city of Medellin. Cruise was not aboard the plane.


Relatives of Purwin sued the movie’s production companies — including Imagine Entertainment and Cross Creek Pictures — as well as the estate of Berl. Their suit alleges that Berl was piloting the plane at the time of the crash even though he lacked the skills to do so.

Berl’s estate countersued, claiming Berl informed producers and other parties related to the film that he had insufficient experience to fly the aircraft. The estate also alleges that the flight wasn’t safely planned, prepared or supervised.

Great American Insurance contends in its complaint filed Thursday that its policy covering the plane doesn’t require it to defend the defendants in the two suits.

The insurer said the policy was issued to parties including Heliblack, the Van Nuys company that owned and operated the plane; Purwin; Frederic North, another pilot who worked on the movie; and S&S Aviation, a Georgia company hired to provide aircraft inspection, repair, maintenance and other services, for the film.

“American Made,” directed by Doug Liman, is based on the life of Barry Seal, a TWA pilot who moonlighted as a drug runner and was recruited by the CIA to help take down Pablo Escobar.

Universal has set a Sept. 29 release date for the movie.