The mother of John Bernecker, a stuntman on AMC’s The Walking Dead, has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the network and other parties after her son from serious injuries suffered on the show’s set last year.
Susan Bernecker filed the lawsuit in Gwinnett County State Court in Georgia on Tuesday, January 23, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
The lawsuit names AMC Networks Inc., production company Stalwart Films and others, and alleges that the network “orchestrated and enforced a pattern of filming and producing The Walking Dead cheaply and, ultimately, unsafely,” according to THR. The lawsuit also claims that Stalwart Films cut corners on safety precautions after AMC wanted the company to keep budgets low.
“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,” AMC told Us Weekly in a statement on Wednesday, January 24. “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.”
The actor died on July 12 after he fell to his death on the set in Senoia, Georgia. He was 33. The Coweta County Coroner first confirmed the news to Atlanta’s WSB-TV and Variety the same day. The following day, Deadline reported that Bernecker suffered a severe head injury after falling more than 20 feet to a concrete floor.
“We are saddened to report that John Bernecker, a talented stuntman for The Walking Dead and numerous other television shows and films, suffered serious injuries from a tragic accident on set,” AMC told the site at the time. “He was immediately transported to an Atlanta hospital, and we have temporarily shut down production. We are keeping John and his family in our thoughts and prayers.”
AMC also issued a statement to Us Weekly at the time. “John Bernecker’s family has decided that he will be removed from life support following organ donation. We are deeply saddened by this loss and our hearts and prayers are with John’s family, friends and colleagues during this extremely difficult time,” the statement read.
Scott M. Gimple, TWD executive producer and showrunner, told Us: “Our production is heartbroken by the tragic loss of John Bernecker. John’s work on The Walking Dead and dozens of other movies and shows will continue to entertain and excite audiences for generations. We are grateful for his contributions, and all of us send our condolences, love, and prayers to John’s family and friends.”
Us Weekly has reached out to AMC for comment.