PHOENIX (CN) - Former "Dual Survival" star Cody Lundin sued the Discovery Channel, claiming it portrayed him as incompetent and out of control when he feared for his life after his co-star Joe Teti threatened to "run [him] through" with a spear.
Lundin sued Discovery Communications, Original Media and show runner Brian Nashel on Friday in Federal Court, seeking punitive damages for false light and defamation.
Lundin, a survival instructor, was hired in 2009 to co-host Discovery's reality show, "Dual Survival." Discovery hired Teti to work on the show with Lundin for its third and fourth seasons.
During those seasons, Lundin says, Teti threatened him, crew members and Discovery executives with death. Among other things, Lundin claims, Teti threatened to "run [him] through" with a spear while they were filming an episode.
Lundin says he complained to Nashel and a Discovery executive, saying the crew was begging them to take action.
In another incident, Lundin says, Teti told him: "You better not blow this for me (the show). ... I think you know what is going to happen to you." (Parentheses and ellipsis in complaint.)
Teti threatened to "bury" him which holding an ice ax, and to top it off, Lundin says, Teti showed him photos of people he claimed to have killed when he was in the CIA.
Lundin says he repeatedly complained about Teti's actions, whereupon Discovery fired him.
After firing him, he says, Discovery demanded that he "make a false public statement to the effect that he had quit 'Dual Survival' to work full time as an instructor at his survival school."
Lundin founded and runs the Aboriginal Living Skills School in Arizona.
When Lundin refused to issue the false statement, he says, the defendants became upset "because they knew that he was a very popular figure on the show and that they would receive significant backlash from viewers (and thus loss of viewership and income)."
Next, Lundin says, he learned the defendants were putting together an episode to explain why he was no longer on the show. He had an attorney send a letter to Discovery's legal department stating that any implication on the show that Lundin was "unable to hack survival situations or unable to meet the challenge of surviving in the wilderness" would amount to defamation, according to the complaint.
But the episode was broadcast, Lundin says, and it portrayed him "as incompetent, inexperienced, weak, erratic, untrustworthy, overly emotional and even mentally impaired in order to serve their own financial interests, so that fans of the show would believe their false story that he had quit the show, rather than that he had been fired from the show, and that in any event, it was his own personal failings and incompetence that led to his separation from the show, and thus not blame defendants or be upset that he had left the show."
Since the episode aired, Lundin says, enrollment in his school has dropped, as have sales of his books and his endorsement offers.
Discovery had no comment on the lawsuit.
Teti sued his former commander and others in 2014, claiming they defamed him with false statements about his military service on Facebook and other websites.
Lundin is represented by Kraig Marton with Jaburg & Wilk.