Saturday, May 21, 2011

Actress Rosie Perez sues "Law & Order: SVU" for injuries

From the NY Daily News:

In the civil justice system, actors - like Rosie Perez - can take legal action if injured during the filming of a "Law & Order: SVU" episode. This is her story.

The Brooklyn-born actress suffered a herniated disc that required two surgeries after an extra forcibly shook her while shooting a scene for the popular NBC crime drama in September 2009, a lawsuit charges.

"The thing to do was taking someone who knows what he's doing to make it look violent without being violent," said lawyer Brian O'Dwyer, who filed the suit Wednesday in Brooklyn Supreme Court. "This person was not a stuntman, he was just an extra."

The scene in question comes in the first few seconds of a Season 11 episode called "Hardwired." Perez, a guest star playing an incensed mother, sticks her head inside a car and chokes another mom when an actor dressed as a school crossing guard pulls her away.

In one of the takes, O'Dwyer said, "I guess he got carried away with the scene."

Despite the pain, the "Fearless" actress carried on, likely exacerbating her injuries, said the lawyer.

"There was pressure on her to continue and finish up the episode and she did," he said.

Perez, 46, underwent two operations, including a spinal fusion in July, when bone marrow from her pelvic was transplanted into her vertebrae. Days later, she had to attend an event at the White House with the aid of a wheelchair and neck brace.

"She's still suffering severe pain, numbness of the arms, and she'll never be the same despite the surgery," said O'Dwyer, adding that his client missed nearly a year's worth of work, losing a number of roles she was slated for.

More than a year after the botched shoot, the petit Academy Award nominee was far from fully healed.

"I'm on the mend. It's going slow, but I am getting better," quoted her as saying in October. "I started physical therapy finally, but everything is not completely fused yet in my neck, but it's getting there."

The suit does not specify a dollar amount, but because of the severity and the lifelong nature of the injury, combined with the victim's earning power, demanded damages will be "very substantial," O'Dwyer said.

A spokesman for "Law & Order" declined to comment.