Bernecker fell 22 feet to his death while rehearsing a scene for the AMC show in July 2017. The stuntman crashed into a concrete floor — rather than an air bag — and succumbed to head injuries two days later.
In a Georgia courtroom on Tuesday, his parents, Susan and Hagen Bernecker, were represented by attorney Jeff Harris, who claimed the stuntman’s death was “entirely preventable,” Deadline reported.
The attorney claimed the production team was “complacent” in terms of safety, and that there was “just a failure to plan for anything other than complete success” on the set, according to the outlet.
Bernecker’s fall occurred while he was rehearsing a fight scene with actor Austin Amelio, who was a regular cast member on Season 8 of the show. While an air bag was placed below Bernecker, the stuntman missed it on his way down and hit the concrete.
In Harris’ closing arguments, the attorney argued that Amelio may have touched the stuntman, causing him to grab a hold of a railing and alter his fall, Deadline reported. Amelio denied having contact with Bernecker.
“There are a zillion different ways that this stunt could have been thrown off, but there just wasn’t any planning for it,” the attorney said, via Deadline.
Harris also replayed the scene in court and argued that the production team failed to spend “a couple hundred bucks” on more cardboard.
“Their defense is it’s his fault for not asking for more,” Harris said.
Susan and Hagen Bernecker sued AMC in January 2018. AMC has denied responsibility, saying that Bernecker’s death was an “unforeseeable accident” caused by his own negligence.
Another point of contention in the case is whether or not Bernecker was an employee of the production company. Harris argued that Bernecker was an independent contractor, while AMC has argued that it contracted out the production of the show to Stalwart Films.
According to Georgia law, if Bernecker is recognized as an employee of Stalwart Films, Bernecker’s case would fall under the state’s workers’ compensation system.