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June 19, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

In the wake of recent reports alleging deficient or non-existent safety measures at the locations of reality TV shows, the family of a woman who was killed during the production of a pilot for Discovery Channel has sued the producers and the channel. In a federal court filing in Colorado, the husband and daughter of Terry Flanell claim that Anthropic Productions and Discovery failed to take reasonable precautions for an opening sequence in which pyrotechnic devices failed to function properly when they were set off by a producer. As reported by today’s (Wednesday) Los Angeles Times, the suit claims that the devices had not been manufactured by a licensed manufacturer, that neither Discovery nor Anthropic had obtained a permit for their use, and that there was no licensed pyrotechnics operator on the scene. The result was that the metal pipes used in the devices were propelled through the air, striking Flanell in the head and killing her instantly. Neither Discovery nor Anthropic has commented on the lawsuit. In January, the Times documented several instances of serious injury on the location of reality shows, including one in which a producer and her crew riding in a boat traveling at high speed at night in Guyana were tossed into a river, knocking the producer unconscious. Although her shoulder was torn and her ribs severely bruised, she claims that she had to wait 19 hours to receive medical care because the production company had no plans for medical evacuation. Following interviews with producers, safety consultants and labor advocates, the Times concluded: “A combination of tight budgets, lack of trained safety personnel and pressure to capture dramatic footage has caused serious and in some cases fatal incidents” on the sets of reality shows.