United Artists and mega-star Tom Cruise have all been sent letters announcing the lawsuit, the extras’ attorney Ariane Bluttner from the Berlin law firm of Dr. Schmitz & Partner said Monday.
The extras were injured last year in Berlin while filming Valkyrie, a portrayal of WWII resistance hero Claus Schenk von Stauffenberg, who is played by Cruise. In the accident, a side flap on a truck fell open unexpectedly as the truck in which the non-speaking actors were riding rounded a curve.
The extras hope to reach an out-of-court settlement with United Artists and Cruise, attorney Bluttner said. Should this prove unsuccessful, Bluttner said she’s considering a civil suit in the U.S., which would be more expensive for the plaintiffs but also offer a higher potential pay-out because of differences between U.S. and German law.
The extras allege that the film crew knew the truck was defective but used it anyway. The German office for worker protection reportedly rejected the accusation after inspecting the offending motor vehicle.
The film will debut later this year in the U.S. but has already caused repeated uproar in Germany where many locals are aghast at a devout Scientologist playing one of their heroes. The German government refuses to recognize Scientology as a religion and most fear the group as a rich cult.
There has been tortured national debate as to whether Scientology purposely wanted Cruise to play the role to improve the controversial faith’s image in Germany.