The long and tumultuous court case regarding the death of stuntman John Bernecker on the set of The Walking Dead seems to have finally come to an end. On Thursday afternoon, after two days of deliberations, the Georgia jury reached a verdict in the lawsuit. AMC Networks was found "not to be negligent" in Bernecker's death, but the estate of Bernecker was also awarded $8.6 million in civil damages.
According to Deadline, an appeal is unlikely, as the money awarded by the jury in damages will be covered by insurance. The case also determined that Bernecker was an independent contractor, not an employee of the Stalwart films production company.
Following the verdict, both sides released official statements.
“John was a remarkably talented stunt professional who had an incredibly bright future in the film industry,” said plaintiff’s attorney Jeff Harris. “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.”
“There is no winning or losing in this situation, this was a terrible and tragic accident and our sympathies continue to go out to John Bernecker’s family and friends,” AMC said in a statement. “The set of The Walking Dead is safe and is managed to meet or exceed all industry standards and guidelines related to stunts and stunt safety,” the company asserted in language very similar to past statements on the matter. “That has been the case across the production of 10 seasons and more than 150 episodes, and it continues to be the case today, notwithstanding this very sad and isolated accident.”