Mom of ‘Walking Dead’ Stuntman Who Died in Fall to File Lawsuit

By Jack Phillips

The mother of a stuntman who died on the set of “The Walking Dead” in Georgia is going to file a lawsuit against the production company, reported The Associated Press.

Attorney Jeff Harris said in a statement that they will proceed with litigation after that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has cited Stalwart Films in the death of John Bernecker, 33, according to the press agency. He died in July.

OSHA fined the production company $12,675 for “failing to protect employees from fall hazards,” according to Deadline Hollywood.

Susan Bernecker said she’ll “seek justice” in her son’s death, Deadline reported.

The lawsuit, she said, will “ensure that no other parent with a child working in the film and television industry suffers this kind of heartbreak.”

Bernecker died on July 14 of head injuries after a fall from a balcony on a “Walking Dead” set while rehearsing a fight scene with an actor. He missed an airbag that was placed on the ground, hitting his head.

“There are no words to describe the loss of my son, John, who was a highly professional, veteran stuntman with a remarkable passion for life,” his mother said in a statement. “He was very respected and loved in the film industry. This tragedy has changed our family forever and has left us with many questions that deserve answers.”

Harris, her attorney, represented the parents of Sarah Jones, a camera assistant who died in Georgia during the filming Midnight Rider back in 2014.

“We have been waiting for the OSHA investigation to conclude so that we can proceed with civil litigation,” Harris told Deadline. “We are hopeful that the John Bernecker case will elevate safety standards in the film and television industry so that stunt-related tragedies can be avoided in the future.”

OSHA said it fined the company the maximum amount in failing to provide adequate protection to an employee.

“This tragedy should serve as a wake-up call for the entertainment industry,” said OSHA Atlanta Regional Administrator Kurt Petermeyer on its website. “The entire industry needs to commit to safety practices for actors and stunt people involved in this type of work.”

Stalwart Films said that it disagreed with OSHA’s findings and fine, saying that it takes “the safety of our employees extremely seriously.”

“This was a tragic and terrible accident.We take the safety of our employees extremely seriously on all of our sets and comply with—and frequently exceed—industry safety standards. We disagree with the issuance of this citation and are considering our response,” the statement reads.

Bernecker, a veteran stuntman, had more than 100 TV and film credits to his name.

 

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