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Court tosses $8M verdict in ‘Walking Dead’ stuntman’s death

March 17, 2021 GMT

ATLANTA (AP) — An appeals court has thrown out an $8 million jury verdict awarded to the family of a stuntman who was fatally injured while filming an episode of “The Walking Dead” in 2017.

The Georgia Court of Appeals ruled that civil claims brought by the parents of stuntman John Bernecker were barred by the Workers’ Compensation Act.

Bernecker’s family sued AMC Networks, production company Stalwart Films and others in Gwinnett County State Court outside Atlanta after the 33-year-old stuntman died from a head injury suffered while performing a fall from a balcony 25 feet (8 meters) above the ground during filming in the Georgia town of Senoia.

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Attorneys for Bernecker’s parents, Susan and Hagen Bernecker, argued those producing the show skimped on safety measures for financial and scheduling concerns. Lawyers for the defendants said the stuntman’s death was an unforeseeable accident.

A civil jury hearing the case in December 2019 found AMC wasn’t negligent, but awarded Bernecker’s parents $8 million from Stalwart Films and others it found to be at fault.

Jeffrey Harris, an attorney for Bernecker’s parents, told the Daily Report he believes the March 11 ruling by the appeals court was in error. He said he plans to ask the Georgia Supreme Court to review the decision.