the personal injury and clinical negligence blog

A collaboration between Rebmark Legal Solutions and 1 Chancery Lane

Hangover Part II and the EU (Council) Regulation 44/2001

Those of you familiar with the work of Kieslowski and Bergman might have missed “The Hangover II”. It is part of a sub-genre of American comedy that, perhaps, also includes critically under-rated offerings like “Porky’s” and “Bachelor Party” (the latter being the sort of thing Tom Hanks got up to before he started to win Academy Awards). I confess that I had missed the opening episode in The Hangover franchise. I believe that I was catching up with Proust while downloading Monteverdi’s Vespers that evening. Anyway, The Hangover Part II is apparently (I did make it quite clear I haven’t seen it, didn’t I?) set in Thailand. During the course of filming an Australian stuntman (the body double for Ed Helms, one of the stars) was seriously injured while being carried as a passenger in a car. According to the BBC News website (5.9.11) He alleges that the stunt coordinator negligently ordered the car to increase its speed with the result that it collided with another vehicle. He is now suing the stunt coordinator, a director of the film and the studio for the injuries that he sustained; the proceedings are in Los Angeles.
Filming can be a dangerous business.  I was reminded by the Hangover Part II litigation that exactly twenty three years ago today the excellent English actor Roy Kinnear sustained fatal injuries when he was thrown from a horse while filming a stunt in Spain for “The Return of the Musketeers”.  His estate sued the film company as well as the producer and director of the film. The Defendants contended that Mr Kinnear’s death had resulted not from their negligence and the injuries that might have been sustained as a result, but, instead, from the clinical negligence of the Spanish hospital where he was treated. The Defendants brought Third Party proceedings against the Spanish surgeon and hospital in reliance, in part, on the Civil Liability (Contribution) Act 1978 and the Spanish medical parties sought to have these struck out on the ground that they were not “any other third party proceedings” within the meaning of article 6(2) of EU (Council) Regulation 44/2001 (the “Judgments Regulation”). The judgment of Phillips J ([1996] 1 WLR 920 (QBD)), finding for the Defendants on the jurisdictional issue, is a model of pragmatism. He was persuaded that the special jurisdiction available to the Defendants by reason of article 6(2) required some nexus or connection between the main action and the third party action and that this nexus (sufficient to override the right of a party to be sued in the courts of his own domicile) was provided by the right to indemnity/contribution contained in the 1978 Act (a recovery action pursuant to the 1978 Act in the Kinnear proceedings was likely to give rise to substantially the same issues as arose in the main action). “Where one tortfeasor wishes to reduce his liability to reflect the fact that another tortfeasor shares responsibility for the plaintiff’s damage, it may be impossible to do this unless all three parties are brought before the same tribunal. That seems to me to be the practical reality in the present case and, so far as the defendants are concerned, this jurisdiction is the only one which offers that possibility. This of itself abundantly justifies the application of article 6(2) in the present case.
Kinnear is an important case. It continues to be applied today (see, for example, Barton v Golden Sun Holidays Limited & Anor. [2007] EWHC 3455 (QB)).
The BBC News report that refers to The Hangover Part II litigation informs us that the film has taken £371 million since its release earlier this year. One wonders whether in due course some of this might find its way to the injured stuntman.
  • Nelson Egloff

    9/28/2011 4:31:19 PM |

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