Wrongful Death Suits Allege Unsafe Conditions in Georgia’s Film and TV Industries
- posted: Feb. 27, 2020
Georgia is home to the country’s third-largest film and television production industry, behind only California and New York. The Walking Dead, Stranger Things, and Guardians of the Galaxy are just some of the series and movies filmed in the state, where the film industry has created tens of thousands of jobs and employed many locals.
Unfortunately, the high stakes, bustling sets and big showpieces that make the movie and TV business alluring to many can also make it hazardous. A number of high-profile wrongful death and personal injury lawsuits filed against film and TV production companies in Georgia highlight the potentially fatal dangers.
Among the tragic incidents that have occurred on Georgia film sets was the 2014 death of Sarah Jones, the second camera assistant for the film Midnight Rider. Ms. Jones was hit by a train while setting up for a scene on a trestle over the Altamaha River near Jesup. The production company did not have permission to shoot on the tracks, but filmmakers decided to risk getting the shot they wanted anyway. Ms. Jones’s family sued several defendants in a wrongful death lawsuit, alleging negligence on the part of the transportation company that owned the train tracks, the owner of the land where the accident occurred, the film’s director and the film’s assistant director. In 2017, a jury agreed that Ms. Jones’s death was preventable and awarded her estate $11.2 million in damages.
The award-winning AMC show The Walking Dead was at the center of another wrongful death lawsuit. In 2017, stuntman John Bernecker suffered a catastrophic injury while performing a stunt at Raleigh Studios in Senoia and was later declared brain dead. Mr. Bernecker’s estate sued AMC and several other companies involved in the filming, claiming that the production’s failure to take reasonable safety precautions resulted in Mr. Bernecker’s death. A jury awarded his estate $8.6 million in civil damages.
The films Rampage and Tag and the television series Sleepy Hollow are among the other Georgia productions that have faced allegations of unsafe work conditions over the past few years.
When proper equipment or training is not provided on a set, or a filmmaker prioritizes their artistic vision over the safety of cast and crew members, lives are put at risk. Decision-makers and companies who jeopardize the people under their care deserve to be held accountable when their actions lead to injury or death.
The Stone Mountain, Georgia wrongful death attorneys at Jason & Bradley, LLC will seek full justice for personal injury victims and the estates of wrongful death victims in actions against an entertainment company or any other negligent defendant. Schedule a free initial consultation with our office by calling (404) 297-9933 or contacting us online.