Movie Set Collapses Permanently Injuring High-Profile Actor


Biomechanics ExpertThis case involves the injury of a high-profile actor on the set of a movie being filmed in Los Angeles. Part of the set included a balcony of a house. The balcony had wooden balusters that were 3ft in height surrounding the entirety of the balcony area. While the actor was filming a scene, he leaned against the balcony and the balusters suddenly collapsed causing the actor to fall from a significant height. He suffered a traumatic brain injury from the impact as well as spinal injuries. As a result of his injuries, the actor was unable to continue working on the movie. A biomechanics expert was sought to calculate the force of impact and the extent of the physical and lasting damage caused to the actor.

Question(s) For Expert Witness

  • 1. Please explain your background in biomechanical engineering.
  • 2. How would you go about calculating the force of impact based on your inspection of the movie set?

Expert Witness Response E-073602

I have my bachelor’s degree in biomedical engineering and my Ph.D. in material science and engineering. My doctoral research involved modeling traumatic brain injury in cultured rat neurons. I designed and developed a device for delivering the appropriate mechanical forces necessary to simulate traumatic brain injury in a dish. I am well-versed in traumatic brain injury from a biomechanical point of view and the body of literature that accompanies this field (i.e. forces experienced during a traumatic event, head movements and speeds related to traumatic events, and outcomes of such events). Currently, I serve as a biomechanics professor at a university in the northeast where I teach students mechanical principals and their relationship with anatomy and how to analyze these forces. I believe that given a large enough height, it is very possible that this event has a high probability of traumatic brain injury. If I were to analyze this case, I would need to know the details of the situation (i.e. measurements of the window, biostats of the victim, history of TBI in the victim, and distance of the window to the victim) and I would calculate the forces on the area of impact and the relative motion of the victims head as a result of that impact.

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