More details continue to trickle out as the wrongful death trial between a Walking Dead stuntman and AMC begins. The network is now saying that there was a mistake made by John Bernecker and that was the cause of his unfortunate death. This case has been the cause of conversation for a few years now as the cast and crew were shocked by the tragic accident. Now, the two sides have found themselves in court to figure out just how much culpability AMC holds for Bernecker’s untimely passing. David A. Dial is the attorney representing the network and he had a lot to say during the trial’s opening arguments. The comments were released by Deadline and outline just how the company will be looking to explain what happened that day.
“Unfortunately, the evidence will show that John Bernecker made a mistake,” he began. “For reasons that no one can explain, he grasped the rail and held on. That purposeful action in hanging on is what took him away from the safety of the mat that he located.”
AMC is alleging that because of that key detail, this does not fall at their feet. Bernecker passed in July of 2017 after sustaining massive head injuries after falling 20 feet to the concrete floor below while filming a scene for Season 8 of The Walking Dead. Another fact the company noted was that the stuntman was technically employed by Stalwart Film and not AMC itself. In that case, the channel would not be liable and Georgia, where TWD is filmed, would have to handle the issue through their state’s worker’s compensation agencies.
There was a wrongful-death lawsuit in January 2018 after Bernecker’s mother promised to “seek justice” for her son. The family pointed toward some of the practices around the show’s filming that could have contributed to an unsafe work environment. Low production budgets with eyes toward higher profits was a main pillar of their argument then. But, now it will be up to a jury to decide what was more responsible for the stuntman’s death. AMC released a statement to Deadline yesterday about the ongoing trial.
“This was a tragic accident, and our deepest sympathies continue to go out to John Bernecker’s family and friends,” the statement reads. “Across 10 seasons and more than 150 episodes, the set of The Walking Dead is safe, and is regularly evaluated to ensure that it adheres to all industry standards and guidelines related to stunts and stunt safety, notwithstanding this very sad and isolated accident.”