The family of deceased stuntman John Bernecker, who died due to an accident while working on set of The Walking Dead, is filing a wrongful death lawsuit against AMC. The immensely popular zombie series based on the comic books by Robert Kirkman is currently airing its eighth season.
Despite the series maintaining a steady viewership this season, the show has been entangled in bad luck since the stuntman's death in 2017. Veteran stuntman John Bernecker sustained a serious head injury during season 8 production while performing a balcony fall stunt with actor Austin Amelio, who plays Dwight. Bernecker grabbed onto a railing when he fell 22 feet, missing the pads and boxes, landing on the concrete. Bernecker was being treated in an Atlanta hospital and season 8 production was halted, but the stuntman tragically succumbed to his injuries later in the week.
Now, we are learning through a new report on ScreenCrush that Bernecker's family is filing a wrongful death lawsuit against AMC. Bernecker’s mother Susan filed suit in Gwinnett County State Court claiming that AMC “orchestrated and enforced a pattern of filming and producing The Walking Dead cheaply and, ultimately, unsafely.” She also claims that AMC pressured production company Stalwart Films to keep unreasonable low budgets, thus resulting in less safety measures. It should also be noted Amelio told investigators that Bernecker felt nervous about performing the stunt because he was inexperienced with falls of that height.
AMC fired back stating they, "take the safety of our employees on all of our sets extremely seriously, and meet or exceed industry safety standards." This hasn't been the first legal problem with The Walking Dead though. This past August the Walking Dead producers sued AMC for $1 billion in profit loss. There were also petitions going around asking that showrunner Scott M. Gimple be fired after fan-favorite character Carl (Chandler Riggs) was fatefully bitten by a zombie. On top of fan anger, Riggs’ father also claimed that his son was fired from the show two weeks before his 18th birthday after telling him they wanted him to remain on the show for the next three years.
Even though Walking Dead remains popular with fans, only time will tell if the series can survive this run of bad luck.
The Walking Dead season 8 returns Sunday, February 25th on AMC.