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Discovery Sued Over Deadly Explosion on Reality Show Pilot Shoot

Man says that Discovery was negligent in pyrotechnics accident that killed his wife

A Colorado man whose wife was killed while filming a pilot for a Discovery reality series is suing Discovery and Anthropic Productions, the company producing the pilot, for the death of his spouse.

In a complaint filed in U.S. District Court in Colorado on Wednesday, Melvin B. Bernstein claims that Discovery Communications and Anthropic were negligent in the use of pyrotechnics during the shooting of the pilot's opening sequence, resulting in the death of his wife, Terry Flanell.

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Flanell's daughter, Melanie Flanell-Bernstein, is also a plaintiff in the suit, which alleges wrongful death and negligent infliction of emotional distress.

According to the suit, the pilot, titled "Brothers in Arms," centered on Bernstein and Flannel's Colorado-based business, a gun store, shooting range and paintball park called Dragon Man.

The opening sequence of the pilot was to feature the couple and three other Dragon Man personnel walking through a cloud of smoke carrying weapons. To accomplish this, the suit says, two pyrotechnic devices — which "had not been manufactured by a licensed and experienced manufacturer of pyrotechnic devices" were used.

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As the sequence was filmed in June 2012, Bernstein claims, the pyrotechnic devices malfunctioned and "shot like missiles toward the five Dragon Man personnel, and one of the devices struck Terry Flanell, killing her instantly," according to the complaint.

The suit alleges that Discovery and Anthropic failed to obtain a permit from the proper governmental authority to use the pyrotechnics, and hadn't retired a licensed pyrotechnics operator.

Discovery had no comment for TheWrap on the lawsuit.

Bernstein says he's suffered "past and future grief, loss of companionship, impairment of the quality of life, inconvenience, pain and suffering and emotional stress" as a result of the fatality, as well as "the net financial loss which has had because of the untimely death of his late spouse."

This isn't the only tragic incident associated with a Discovery reality show shoot. In February, three men working on a Discovery Channel reality series were killed in a helicopter crash during filming in Acton, Calif.