A British personal injuries law firm announced on Thursday that it sent letters of claim to the show’s production company, Studio Lambert, on behalf of two Squid Game: The Challenge contestants. The firm said its lawyers are currently in communication with other participants who may also want to file lawsuits.
The law firm, Express Solicitors, said the unnamed competition show hopefuls were injured as a result of “poor health and safety standards on set.”
Squid Game: The Challenge took the chaotic gameplay of Netflix’s smash hit Korean drama Squid Game and made it a reality — without the fatal consequences. The stakes are still high, as contestants from around the world compete for an impressive US$4.56-million prize (over C$6.2 million), the largest-ever single prize in gameshow history.
The potential lawsuit revolves specifically around the first “Red Light, Green Light” challenge in the reality show, according to The Hollywood Reporter. Just like the fictional characters from the original drama, participants were instructed to evade capture by a giant nursery-rhyme-singing robotic doll. Rather than using bullets, as is the case in the original drama, contestants were struck with radio-controlled exploding dye once eliminated.
Daniel Slade, the CEO of Express Solicitors, said show producers “pushed the boundaries of safety in the name of entertainment.”
In a written statement, Slade continued, “Production companies need to ensure that health and safety standards on their shows don’t leave people at risk of harm.”
A spokesperson for Squid Game: The Challenge told The Hollywood Reporter that no lawsuit has been filed.
“We take the welfare of our contestants extremely seriously,” the spokesperson said.
The show was filmed at Cardington Studios, a former Royal Air Force base in Bedfordshire, U.K., during chilly weather in January. The contestants who have threatened to sue the show’s producers allege they were made to crouch without moving for prolonged periods in cold weather.
Reports earlier emerged with anonymous quotes from contestants claiming the conditions during the “Red Light, Green Light” challenge were akin to a “warzone.” A participant told the U.K.’s Sun at least one player had to be carried out on a stretcher.
Slade endorsed the claim about a stretchered contestant in a statement to The Guardian. He said another participant’s hands turned purple in the cold.
“Contestants thought they were taking part in something fun and those injured did not expect to suffer as they did,” Slade told the outlet. “Now they have been left with injuries after spending time being stuck in painful stress positions in cold temperatures.”
Though the entire game takes only about five minutes in the Squid Game: The Challenge episode, contestant Lorenzo Nobilio told the BBC it took her seven hours to cross the “Red Light, Green Light” finish line.
In January, Netflix denied allegations that any Squid Game: The Challenge hopefuls were “seriously injured,” but did say three of the show’s 456 contestants received medical treatment for “mild” injuries.
Executive producer John Hay last week told The Hollywood Reporter that the “Red Light, Green Light” segment was a “big, complicated shoot, and it was a cold day, and it took quite a long time.”
He continued: “But everyone was prepared for that and looked after properly. We anticipated and actually strenuously tested everything in advance and made sure we took all the proper measures.”
A second executive producer, Stephen Lambert, told the outlet that contestants knew when they signed up for the competition that it wouldn’t be a cakewalk.
“We’re giving away the largest prize in TV competition history,” Lambert said.
He said Squid Game: The Challenge contestants faced moments that were “quite tough” but not nearly as difficult as many other reality competition shows in the U.S., like popular Survivor or MTV’s The Challenge, which has seen contestants break bones and have to endure incredibly strenuous competitions.
“This is no harder than those, and in lots of shows you have people sometimes treated for mild complaints, which is what happened in that particular game,” Lambert said.
On Wednesday, Netflix released the first five episodes of Squid Game: The Challenge.
The original Squid Game drama, which saw fictional contestants overcome gargantuan odds in a life-or-death series of children’s games, smashed records for Netflix. According to the streaming giant, Squid Game was streamed in 142 million households worldwide within the first four weeks of its release. It is Netflix’s most-watched series.