The estate of deceased stuntman John Bernecker has been awarded $8.6 million after he suffered a fatal fall while on the set of AMC’s The Walking Dead.
As reported by E! Online, the death occurred as a result of a stunt being performed on a balcony for Season 8 of the hit zombie apocalypse series. In July of 2017, the stuntman was expected to jump headfirst and then land on a crash pad. However, Bernecker, who was supposed to jump outward and away from the balcony, faltered and handed on the concrete below. Bernecker died two days later as a result of massive head injuries sustained during the fall.
The verdict from the seven-day trial has found that AMC was not negligent in their involvement with Bernecker while he was on set. Regardless, Judge Emily Brantley and the jury in the Gwinnett County courthouse awarded $8.6 million to Bernecker’s mother, Susan, in civil damages. In addition, no additional punitive damages were awarded. According to Deadline, an appeal seems unlikely and it appears that the damages will be covered by insurance.
Attorney Jeff Harris, who represented Bernecker’s mother in the case, released the following statement after the verdict.
“John was a remarkably talented stunt professional who had an incredibly bright future in the film industry. My sincere hope is this verdict sends a clear message regarding the need to both elevate and strictly adhere to industry safety standards every day, on every shoot, on every film set. John’s tragic and preventable death happened as a result of a series of safety-related failures. Learning from these failures will go a long way in making sure that similar tragedies do not happen to another performer or another family.”
AMC also released a statement on the matter. In it, they declared that there were no winners in situations like this one and insisted that the set of The Walking Dead has and will continue to “exceed all industry standards and guidelines” relating to stunt work, according to Deadline.
In the lead up to the proceedings, there was some talk that actor Austin Amelio, who was present at the time of the stunt, had touched Bernecker and this had caused the change in the fall trajectory. Austin has always maintained that he did not interfere. In a previous article with Deadline, Amelio described the event as the “worst day” of his life.
As previously reported by The Inquisitr, Season 10 of The Walking Dead is set to return in February, 2020.