2 families sue HBO, Mark Ruffalo over fire on set of miniseries in Ellenville

The production “I Know This Much is True” ended up being nominated for an Emmy award, while the people in the rural community were allegedly left to clean up their mess.

Blaise Gomez

Sep 21, 2022, 8:35 PM

Updated 610 days ago

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The tiny village of Ellenville was abuzz with excitement in 2019 when HBO and superstar Mark Ruffalo were there for a miniseries, but that changed when the car dealership they were filming at went up in flames. 
The production “I Know This Much is True” ended up being nominated for an Emmy award, while the people in the rural community were allegedly left to clean up their mess. 
“They left. They did nothing,” said Pablo Arias. “They did the movie, destroyed everything and left. That’s it.” 
Arias owns one of two mobile homes next door to the dealership on South Main Street. 
The families say they’ve been living with melted siding, damaged walls and mold, and that no one responsible has offered to fix it. 
Arias and four others filed a lawsuit against HBO, Ruffalo, Calling Grace Productions and the dealership – 613 Automotive Group. 
 “They treated us like we are not humans,” said Jessica Rodriguez. “They don’t want to be responsible for what happened and it’s not OK.” 
Their attorney, Wayne Lonstein, says the invisible impacts of the fire are worse. 
“Barium, lead, chromium, mercury, asbestos,” said Lonstein. 
Lonstein gave News 12 reports that said the soil nearby is now contaminated with toxins from the burned vintage cars and electrical equipment. 
Ironically, the miniseries’ star is known for his environmental activism. 
The Ellenville building inspector tells News 12 that HBO took out a permit to film in the village but didn’t comply with inspection requirements before filming took place. 
News 12 reached out to Ruffalo’s agent and the other defendants but didn’t hear back, and someone at the dealership next door called the police on News 12 while crews were there. 
Arias and Rodriguez says they just want their homes and life back to the way they were. 
They’re seeking $1 million each for damages and “serious mental and emotional injuries.” 


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