The mother of stuntman John Bernecker, who died following an accident on the Coweta County set of “The Walking Dead” has filed a wrongful death lawsuit.
Susan Bernecker is represented by Jeff Harris of Harris Lowry Manton LLP, who represented the parents of Sarah Jones, a crew member who died after an accident on the Jesup area set of the movie “Midnight Rider” in 2014. A Chatham County jury awarded $11.2 million in the Jones case.
Named in the Bernecker lawsuit are Stalwart Films, LLC; TWD Productions VIII; AMC Film Holdings, LLC; director Larry Teng; stunt coordinator Monty Simons; and actor Austin Amelio. Here are the allegations set forth in the lawsuit.
AMC has released this statement in response:
“Our thoughts and prayers are and have been with John Bernecker, his family, friends and everyone touched by this tragic accident since the moment it occurred. We take the safety of our employees on all of our sets extremely seriously, and meet or exceed industry safety standards. Out of respect for the family, we will have no further comment on this litigation.”
“We plan to hold all responsible parties accountable for the tragic death of John Bernecker, a remarkably talented stunt performer and actor who had a bright future,” Harris said in a statement. “I’m confident that the truth about what transpired on the set of ‘The Walking Dead’ on July 12, 2017 will finally be revealed.”
Susan Bernecker has launched a foundation in her son’s memory to “create solutions for the safety of movie and television performers.”
“John was a highly professional, veteran stunt performer who always had your back if you were working with him,” she said in a statement. “I want answers about what happened to John on the set of ‘The Walking Dead,’ and I also plan to have the back of other stunt performers across the industry. After all, stunt performers were our extended family, and John would want me to look after them in his memory. My goal is to do everything I can to protect other stunt performers and to ensure their safety on the set in the future. The industry is not doing enough to maintain basic safety guidelines for these performers. Worst of all, they’re scared to speak up.”
The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration earlier this month levied a maximum fine of $12,000 in citing “The Walking Dead” production company Stalwart Films for “failing to protect employees from fall hazards.”