April 10, 2001 -- The wife of a stand-in who died in Ecuador while filming the Russell Crowe-Meg Ryan kidnap drama Proof of Life has filed a negligence lawsuit against Castle Rock and Warner Bros., Inside.com reports.
William P. Gaffney, who was standing in for actor David Morse, died April 9, 2000, when a truck he was in ran off the road and into a steep ravine. His widow, Karine S. Gaffney, claims in her suit that the filming conditions were unsafe; specifically, that the road had no protective borders and that the truck used in the scene did not have a working emergency brake or sufficient tread on the tires to navigate the muddy roads.
According to the suit, the scene had already been postponed for several days because of rain, and the roads were still muddy.
Morse's character in the film is abducted by terrorists, so his stand-in, Gaffney, was in the back of the truck with a hood over his head and his hands tied behind his back. Gaffney was thrown from the truck after the driver lost control and plunged down the embankment. He died half an hour later of his injuries, the lawsuit claims.
Director Taylor Hackford told The Associated Press at the time that the crash occurred during "an ordinary driving shot of a truck going less than 15 mph on a mountain road. The weather and circumstances were perfect. No one, at this time, has any idea what happened, other than to say it was a freak accident."
Paulette Osorio, a spokeswoman for Castle Rock, told the AP that the company hadn't seen the lawsuit, saying only, "We continue to express our deepest regret to the Gaffney family for this accident and we are very hopeful we can work things out."
When the film was released to mediocre box-office response last fall, Hackford admitted to Mr. Showbiz that filming the movie in the rugged Andes mountains "was no Cole Porter cocktail party."
Co-star David Caruso said, "Taylor is very interested in authenticity. We probably could have filmed in Central Park, but he wanted the location to be a rough one."