Paralyzed former ‘O’ at Bellagio Las Vegas Performer Sues Cirque du Soleil

Posted on: April 21, 2024, 01:25h. 

Last updated on: April 21, 2024, 11:42h.

A former Cirque du Soleil performer left paralyzed from the neck down is suing the company for the injuries he suffered during a performance of “O” at Bellagio Las Vegas last year.

Former champion diver Kyle Mitrione is now a quadriplegic after injuring himself while performing in the Cirque du Soleil show “O” at the Bellagio Las Vegas last year. (Image: Facebook)

Kyle Mitrione, a former diver with the show, filed the lawsuit on Thursday, accusing Cirque of placing him “in harm’s way” during the 9:30 p.m. performance on June 28, 2023. It seeks damages in excess of $50,000, including the cost of medical care and punitive damages.

“O” has run at the Bellagio in Las Vegas since 1998. (Image: Los Angeles Times)

Mitrione, 35, was performing the “Island” act, which the lawsuit stated was introduced only two weeks before the incident. In the routine, Mitrione attempted to dive, headfirst and backwards, off a floating platform into the show’s 1.5-million gallon pool.

However, the platform was out of position, according to the lawsuit, and Mitrione struck one of the platform’s lifts. The collision left him with “permanent, debilitating, catastrophic, and life-altering injuries.”

The performance was stopped as Mitrione was rushed to the hospital, where emergency surgery saved his life but could not repair his spinal cord injury.

In addition to complete quadriplegia, Mitrione’s suit claims he suffers from chronic deep vein thrombosis, hyponatremia, sleep apnea, insomnia, depression, anxiety, and chronic physical pain, among other aiments.

The lawsuit claims Cirque du Soleil is liable for his suffering because:

  • An insufficient number of rehearsals were performed.
  • Other than music cues, there were no audio or technical cues for the divers. So if the stage or underwater techs failed to properly maneuver the platform, there was no way for divers to know.
  • Before the “Island” act was introduced, performers never dove into the pool while the platforms were lifted around performers.
  • Several divers struck or came close to striking the lifts in the weeks leading up to the incident, one only six days earlier, and Cirque officials were notified about their concerns.

“The defendants knowingly rushed the production and installation of the ‘Island’ act, in a deliberate cost reduction effort in order to minimize costs and save money,” the suit claims.

OSHA Fines

In December, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) fined Cirque du Soleil  more than $30,000 for two serious violations found by investigators

The violation relevant to Mitrione’s injury was for failing to provide sufficient audio or visual cues so acrobats know when diving into shallow water is safe.

OSHA’s second citation was for requiring all its artists to be belted into during high-dive and trapeze stunts. While not relevant to Mitrione’s injury, this could have serious implications for the future operation of Cirque shows Strip-wide.

Cirque is reported by multiple sources to be contesting the fines.

Representatives for neither Mitrione nor Cirque responded to questions about the suit.