AceShowbiz - Network bosses behind hit drama "The Walking Dead" have maintained stuntman John Bernecker made a mistake which cost him his life on set as his wrongful death trial began on Tuesday, December 10.
Bernecker died after falling over 20 feet from a platform on the set of the zombie apocalypse series in 2017, and as the trial began in Georgia, the lawyer representing AMC insisted the stuntman himself was responsible for the tragedy.
"Unfortunately, the evidence will show that John Bernecker made a mistake," David A. Dial said in his opening arguments. "For reasons that no one can explain, he grasped the rail and held on."
"That purposeful action in hanging on is what took him away from the safety of the mat that he located."
Judge Emily Brantley is overseeing the trial in Gwinnett County, which is expected to last a week, according to Deadline.
Bernecker died in July, 2017, two days after suffering massive head injuries after crashing from a high balcony to a concrete floor while rehearsing a fight scene with "The Walking Dead" star Austin Amelio.
Bernecker's family filed the wrongful-death lawsuit, accusing AMC bosses of keeping costs low: "The production of Season 8 of 'The Walking Dead', like seasons before it, had an emphasis on keeping production budgets low and profits high," the lawsuit read.
AMC bosses attempted to have the case dismissed but the request was denied in October.
"John Bernecker's death could have easily been prevented," the plaintiffs' lawyer told the court on Tuesday. "The catcher system was completely inadequate."
An AMC spokesman marked the start of the trial by releasing a statement to Deadline, which read: "This was a tragic accident, and our deepest sympathies continue to go out to John Bernecker's family and friends. Across 10 seasons and more than 150 episodes, the set of 'The Walking Dead' is safe, and is regularly evaluated to ensure that it adheres to all industry standards and guidelines related to stunts and stunt safety, notwithstanding this very sad and isolated accident."