Escapologist Jonathan Goodwin sues over US TV stunt that left him paralysed

Escapologist Jonathan Goodwin has launched legal action against the producers of America’s Got Talent: Extreme after he was left paralysed when a stunt went wrong during rehearsals.

The former stuntman and Britain’s Got Talent contestant sustained life-changing injuries in October 2021 when he was crushed between two burning cars while hung upside down.

His lawyer has said the production was “rushed” and “chaotic” and branded the safety practices, protocols and procedures as “inadequate”.

Goodwin was supposed to escape from a straitjacket while hung upside down between two cars suspended in the air at the Atlanta Motor Speedway in Hampton, Georgia.

Instead he was crushed between them as they caught on fire and he then fell around 30ft to the ground.

He suffered a dislocated spinal cord, which has left him a paraplegic, internal organ injuries, including losing his left kidney, fractures to his legs, ribs, and shoulders, as well as third-degree burns.

Goodwin has begun legal proceedings over the “actions and inactions of the various production entities” connected with the incident.

The legal papers show the lawsuit has been filed against companies including US broadcaster NBCUniversal, Fremantle Media North America and production arm Syco Entertainment.

His lawyer Stuart Fraenkel said: “This is yet another example of the entertainment industry putting profits and ratings before safety.

“It is the Rust and Resident Evil sets once again,” he added, referring to two US film productions where crew members were killed or injured.

“The producers and staff working on this show could have taken a number of simple steps to ensure Jonathan’s safety.

“Instead, the production was rushed, chaotic and staffed by a team that lacked the necessary expertise and experience.

“Jonathan will be in a wheelchair for the rest of his life because there were inadequate safety practices, protocols and procedures in place to protect him.

“He is bringing this claim to bring attention to an ongoing lack of safety problem in the entertainment industry.

“He hopes that by bringing this claim lessons will be learned, changes will be made and others in the future will not be exposed to unnecessary risks and danger.”

Goodwin, who reached the final of the 2019 season of Britain’s Got Talent, has now retired from escapology.

His fiancee, actress Amanda Abbington, has previously described him as a “total inspiration”.

Abbington, who played Mary Watson in BBC’s Sherlock and is competing in this year’s Strictly Come Dancing, said of the relationship on ITV’s Lorraine last year: “We are closer and tighter than ever, and we just have this unspoken thing that we have, and every day is a joy, and it’s just fun. We have the best time.”

Fremantle Media has been approached for comment.