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Actor tentatively agrees with Netflix, others over ventilation dispute

LOS ANGELES (CNS) — An actor has tentatively settled a lawsuit he had filed against Netflix Inc. and several other companies, much with little protection from carbon monoxide.

Defense attorneys on Wednesday filed a notice of a “conditional” settlement with Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Theresa M. Traber regarding plaintiff Timothy Hearl’s complaint. No terms were announced and defense attorneys say they expect to file a motion for release by September 13.

Also named as defendants in the lawsuit filed Jan. 15 were Empyrean Production Services, production company Redrock Entertainment Services LLC, online ticket seller Fever Labs Inc. and event promotion company Secret Group US Inc. In their court filings, the attorneys denied defendants against any wrongdoing or liability of their clients.

Hearl, whose film roles include the 2012 film The Cinderella Effect, was hired by defendants last September to be part of a theatrical company to recreate scenes from the third season of the Netflix fantasy series Stranger Things, sources said the lawsuit.

The show was scheduled to run from around September through April this year with performances five days a week, but due to the coronavirus, the live event has been adapted as a drive-in experience at an outdoor venue in downtown Los Angeles to suit the suit.

Hearl was originally hired to play a Demogorgon, an alternate-dimensional monster in the fictional world of Stranger Things, and the role required him to don a form-fitting body suit, according to the complaint. Although the defendants completed several costume fittings and attended all rehearsals, they did not provide Hearl with a costume, the suit claimed.

In response to multiple emails from Hearl complaining about the lack of contracted work, the defendants temporarily reassigned him to play a character wearing a hazmat suit in a gated parking lot with little ventilation, so the suit.

“The space was not designed to allow actors to walk between cars for long periods of time, as all vents to fresh air were covered to keep light out, and audience members kept their vehicles running during the performances,” the statement reads Men’s suit.

After several performances, the actors assigned to the area began complaining that they were having trouble breathing and becoming ill from possible carbon monoxide poisoning, the lawsuit said.

Hearl was almost hit by a moving car during a performance in mid-November, the suit claimed.

“As one of the more experienced cast members in the backing cast, (Hearl) was not afraid to voice his health and safety concerns and speak up for his fellow cast members,” the lawsuit reads, adding that the actor asked for ventilation system would be provided and whether carbon dioxide monitors would be available.

Hearl filed a complaint with the California Occupational Safety and Health Administration, but instead of improving conditions, the defendants removed him and several other vocal employees and hired back-up actors, the lawsuit says.

Hearl was later told during a November Zoom meeting that he was being fired because he “made women uncomfortable,” the lawsuit says.

“[Hearl]was appalled by this unfounded attack on his character,” the lawsuit reads. “At no point during his tenure have any of the defendants or his colleagues ever indicated that he made any woman, let alone any other person, feel uncomfortable in the workplace.”

In addition, Hearl feared that such marking of his reputation could result in him being blacklisted from further work and other negative repercussions as well, the lawsuit states.

To refute the allegations against him, Hearl revealed himself as a gay man, the lawsuit said. Defendants then changed their reason for his dismissal, saying it was actually “at the request of the client,” the lawsuit said.

According to the lawsuit, Hearl has suffered depression, pain, humiliation, severe emotional distress, trauma and insomnia since the incident.

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