Court grants summary judgment for 20th Century Fox in suit filed by 'The Greatest Snowman' background actor

By Gabriel Neves | Jan 24, 2019

LOS ANGELES – A federal court has ruled in favor of two entertainment companies in a suit filed by a background actor on "The Greatest Showman" over allegations negligence caused his hearing problems.

U.S. District Judge Otis Wright II, on the bench of the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California, issued a seven-page ruling on Jan. 18 granting summary judgment in favor of 20th Century Fox Film Corp. and Chernin Entertainment in James Gencarelli's negligence suit against them.

Wright said that "no genuine issue of material fact exists, and defendants are entitled to judgment as a matter of law."

Gencarelli sued Fox and Chernin over allegations that their negligence caused hearing damage and tinnitus.

As stated in the ruling, Gencarelli "was a background actor in the film 'The Greatest Showman' and appeared as an extra on set approximately 11 times between December and March 2017." He alleged that "he suffered an auditory injury during his employment due to 'dangerous high decibel sounds from speakers on the set of the movie.'”

Gencarelli filed the first complaint on April 13, 2017, with a first amended complaint filed on May 8, 2017. Four days later, he filed a second amended complaint.

In his ruling, Wright noted an issue with Gencarelli's complaint.

"As an initial matter, the court notes that plaintiff failed to file a proposed statement of genuine disputes pursuant to Local Rule 56-2. Although the court is aware of plaintiff’s pro se status, his failure to file a statement of genuine disputes, coupled with the fact that he does not otherwise dispute the material issues presented herein leaves the court with no choice but to deem the presented issues undisputed," Wright said.

The ruling stated that the defendants moved for summary judgment on the grounds Gencarelli was a special employee and his claim was barred because workers' compensation is his exclusive remedy.

U.S. District Court for the Central District of California case number  2:17-cv-02818-ODW-PJW

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