(Reuters) – The estate of a stuntman who died after falling 20 feet onto a concrete floor on a set of the AMC horror series “The Walking Dead” has been awarded $8.6 million by a jury in Atlanta, his family’s lawyer said.
John Bernecker’s parents had sued AMC Networks and other defendants in the show’s production, saying they compromised on safety measures over scheduling and financial concerns.
The estate of Bernecker, represented by his mother, was awarded $8.6 million in civil damages, with no additional punitive damages, by the jury in Atlanta’s State Court of Gwinnett County.
AMC Networks were found not to be negligent and liable in the unanimous decision. AMC said on Thursday “The Walking Dead” set met industry standards on stunt safety.
“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,” it said.
Bernecker was 33 when he died in July 2017 on the set in Senoia, about 40 miles south of Atlanta, Georgia.
“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”, lawyer Jeff Harris said on Thursday.
“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.”
(Reporting by Kanishka Singh in Bengaluru; Editing by Alison Williams)