Extras seek $11 million from Tom Cruise after accident

BERLIN (Reuters) - Twelve movie extras are seeking $11 million in damages from Tom Cruise and his production company after suffering broken bones, cuts and bruises in the filming of World War Two picture “Valkyrie” in Berlin last year.

The extras were injured on August 19, 2007, when the side panel of a period German army truck burst open as it drove around a corner in central Berlin.

A lawyer for the extras told Reuters Television on Tuesday that witness statements indicated the truck’s side panel had not been properly secured.

Cruise was not on the set at the time.

“A new letter has been sent to Tom Cruise, (business partner) Paula Wagner and United Artists, in which we set out the facts of the case again and put a figure on the legal demands of our clients ... of $11 million,” said lawyer Ariane Bluttner.

“Valkyrie” is named after the codename for a plot to assassinate Adolf Hitler concocted by senior German military officers during World War Two. Cruise plays ringleader Claus von Stauffenberg.

The film’s original release date has been postponed to December 26 from July 4 this year.

The German government initially banned the production from shooting on location at the Berlin site where the plot was hatched and the conspirators executed.

It later changed its mind after months of national debate that focused in part on membership of the Scientologist spiritual movement, of which Cruise is a member.

Germany does not recognize Scientology as a religion and regard it as a cult masquerading as a church to make money -- a view rejected by Scientologists.

The movie is being produced by MGM’s United Artists banner, which Cruise runs with business partner Wagner. UA’s debut release under the new regime, the Cruise vehicle “Lions for Lambs”, bombed at the box office last November.

Bluttner said if her clients do not receive a satisfactory out-of-court settlement, she would seek to submit a claim to courts in the United States, where United Artists is based.

The level of damages reflected similar cases in the past and there was a risk that a U.S. judge could order punitive damages for negligence if the case went to court, Bluttner added.

Reporting by Inke Kappeler, writing by David Milliken, editing by Madeline Chambers and Mary Gabriel