A jury verdict involving a stuntman who died on the set of the TV series “The Walking Dead” awarded $8.6 million in civil damages to the estate of John Bernecker. The Georgia jury in the wrongful death case returned the decision Thursday after two days of deliberations.
Deadline reports that AMC Networks was found to not be negligent in Bernecker’s death.
“There were no additional punitive damages,” Deadline reports. “Any appeal looks to be unlikely as the nearly $9 million that the jury deemed in damages will be covered by insurance, a source close to the case told Deadline.”
The report adds: “Adding a further twist to this verdict, the jury decided that Bernecker was in fact an independent contractor, not an employee of production company Stalwart Films, which seems to be the main focus of liability in the jury’s perspective Thursday.”
Deadline notes that Bernecker died two days after suffering massive head injuries while working on a fight scene for Season 8 of the hit series in July 2017.
“The seasoned stuntman was to fall head first over a rail balcony and into a crash pad for a scene on ‘TWD,'” Deadline reports. “However, instead of dropping outward and away from the balcony, Bernecker tragically fell underneath it.”
Soon after the verdict was announced, AMC said in a statement: “There is no winning or losing in this situation, this was a terrible and tragic accident and our sympathies continue to go out to John Bernecker’s family and friends. The set of ‘The Walking Dead’ is safe and is managed to meet or exceed all industry standards and guidelines related to stunts and 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.”