Shortly after a judge set the civil case for trial, an attorney for the plaintiff doubled down on claims that “rude and manipulative” Stephen “Steve-O” Glover, colleague Chris Pontius, and their production team were liable for the devastating head injury Michael Vicéns-Segura sustained during a botched stunt off the coast of Puerto Rico in 2018.
“Workers’ comp doesn’t apply because he wasn’t an employee and he didn’t injure himself,” lawyer John M. Phillips said in an interview on Law&Crime’s Sidebar podcast. “He didn’t design this thing, so somebody has to answer to his damages. And given the lack of [liability] release, although we don’t think a release would cover this situation, it’s headed to a jury trial.”
Vicéns-Segura sued Glover, Pontius and Mudflap Media in 2019 under different counsel. He said he was in the beach town of Rincón when someone he knew asked to use his jet ski for a production. Vicéns-Segura recognized Glover and Pontius, better known for their work on the TV and movie series Jackass. This skit they were filming, in which Glover and Pontius were tied together with a bungee cord while speeding away on different jet skis, was for another show, Phillips said in the new interview.
The concept was “Jet Ski Tug of War.”
As seen on video, Vicéns-Segura was in the water between both watercraft as Glover and Pontius began their final, fateful take. Phillips said that the connection linking Glover to the bungee cord failed, first striking Vicéns-Segura in the head and then hitting Pontius in the leg.
In video released online, Vicéns-Segura described having life-changing brain damage, requiring even a craniotomy to “scoop” blood out. He suffered brain bleeding from the incident, a blood clot in his brain, a C5/C6 herniated disk, and damaged nerves from his neck to his arms, which especially caused trouble using his right hand. He even described having the frightening thought to murder his wife and his mother.
“I don’t know why I thought about that,” he said. They called the doctor, who took him off the anti-convulsive Keppra, he said.
According to Phillips, Vicéns-Segura and Glover exchanged emails after the accident — but the tone of those interactions changed.
“They started off pretty friendly,” the attorney said, declining to elaborate much because of the ongoing case. “Then Mr. Glover was quite rude and manipulative and accused Mr. Vicéns of kind of the stuff you see in their answer [court filings]. But it wasn’t the Steve-O you see on television in these emails, and I think people would be surprised by them. But again, it’s stuff that will come out in court.”
In their response to the 2019 complaint, Pontius’ counsel said that Vicéns-Segura voluntarily participated in the stunt, holding the jet skis in place to keep them from bumping into each other. Pontius did not ask him to do that, the filing said.
“He remained in the water willingly and at his own risk, even after the production crew had asked everybody to clear the area for the filming of the scene,” the filing stated.
Glover’s representation said much the same thing.
“Furthermore, Defendants affirmatively state that Mr. Glover specifically requested that Plaintiff ‘get out of the way to clear the shot,’ which Plaintiff ignored,” a filing said.
Phillips denied that Glover ever said that.
“Where does he say it?” he said. “We have the video.”
You can watch footage of the incident below. The first of the two videos is edited, showing before, during, and after.
Phillips denied that his client signed a liability waiver, only an appearance waiver.
Gabriel A. Miranda, an attorney of record for Glover and Mudflap Media, did not discuss the interview.
“This is an active litigation pending before the U.S. District Court in Puerto Rico. We will not litigate the case in the press,” he wrote in an email to Law&Crime. “Therefore, we will not be publicly commenting on the factual and/or legal matters involved in the litigation. The case will continue its due course before the court, which will evaluate the facts and the law and render a decision.”
Trial is set for March 7, 2023. Both sides still have to do depositions, Phillips said.
Note: We added a statement from Miranda.
[Left screenshot via Law&Crime Network; right via John M. Phillips]
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