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Stuntwoman Sues ‘Airwolf’ Producers, Universal Studios

March 28, 1985

LOS ANGELES (AP) _ A stuntwoman who needed surgery to reconstruct her face after a fiery accident last month during a stunt for the TV series ″Airwolf″ sued the producers and Universal Studios for $10 million Thursday.

Desiree Kerns, 28, suffered second- and third-degree burns on her face, arms and chest in the accident near Canyon Country on Feb. 25, said her attorney, Gerald L. Kroll.

″There have to be safety laws to protect stunt people,″ said Ms. Kerns.

It was the second accident in a little over a month involving the CBS series starring Jan-Michael Vincent and Ernest Borgnine. Stuntman Reid Rondell was killed Jan. 18 in a helicopter crash near Newhall.

Ms. Kerns’ Superior Court suit, which seeks $10 million in punitive damages, accuses Airwolf Production Co., Universal Studios, stunt coordinator Ron Stein and other individuals of fraud and gross negligence, Kroll said.

″They told her she was going to jump from a moving vehicle, but before she jumped, she was to push a button to create smoke,″ the attorney said. ″They didn’t tell her that when she pushed the button, there would be a fire.

″There was no protective clothing and no protective gel for her face,″ Kroll said. ″When she jumped, she was totally engulfed in flames.″

Universal had not received a copy of the lawsuit and had no immediate comment, Ben Halpern, vice president of Universal Television, said Thursday. Calls to the Airwolf Production Co. were referred to executive producer Don Balisaro, who was out of his office, a secretary said.

Ms. Kerns, hospitalized at the Burn Center at Sherman Oaks Community Hospital, has been released but doesn’t plan to return to stunt work, Kroll said.

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