May 21, 2018 / 1:15 AM

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AMC Faces Lawsuit Over 'The Walking Dead' Stuntman's Death


Stuntman John Bernecker's mother is suing AMC for wrongful death after her son died on The Walking Dead set due to AMC's allegedly cheap production.

The civil lawsuit was filed for Susan Bernecker and the stuntman's estate by their lawyers in the state court of Georgia last Tuesday. In the suit, the complainants emphasized AMC's inclination to cut production costs as the reason behind the inability to create a safe working environment for the fallen stuntman.

"The Stewart Film defendants' numerous failures to take reasonable safety precautions were the direct result of the policies, pressure, and decisions from the AMC Defendants to produce The Walking Dead for minimum cost and maximum profit," the complaint states, adding that the AMC defendants are all responsible as the decision-makers of the entire show's production. The show allegedly failed to implement safety measures that were up to the industry standards.

Bernecker died last year from serious injuries sustained when he fell over 20 feet on concrete while filming a fight scene on The Walking Dead set last July 12, 2017.

The recently filed lawsuit went into detail on the accident that led to Bernecker's death.

Among the points of the complaint included the utilization of actor Austin Amelio, who shared the scene with Bernecker and is named as a defendant, instead of a trained stunt double to do the fight scene. It also emphasized the allegedly inadequate safety precautions, particularly an area of padding that "made up of 'port-a-pit' pads on top of 22-inch cardboard boxes tied together by rope."

The complaint says that the padding was insufficient, and necessary air bags and spotters were not used for the scene. The fall that ultimately killed Bernecker was also allegedly unrehearsed. Furthermore, no ambulance or other medical transport was on hand, which delayed the stuntman's hospitalization.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) of the U.S. Department of Labor already investigated the incident, fining Stalwart Films a maximum $12,675 fine for their "failure to provide adequate protection from fall hazards."

In response to the lawsuit, AMC released an official statement to Deadline on Wednesday. The channel expressed their condolences to Bernecker's family and friends after the tragic accident.

"We take the safety of our employees on all of our sets extremely seriously, and meet or exceed industry safety standards," the channel adds in the statement. "Out of respect for the family, we will have no further comment on this litigation."

AMC is facing two other lawsuits filed by The Walking Dead co-creator Frank Darabont and the Creative Artists Agency over shady accounting practices.

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