Stunt man alleges producers of feature film 'The Loft' at fault for injuries during botched stunt

By Kyle Barnett | Mar 12, 2012

NEW ORLEANS – A Metairie stunt man is suing a production company for injuries he claims to have received during a stunt that went wrong.

John Bernecker filed suit on March 1 in Orleans Parish Civil District Court against Loft Productions, Anonymous Content, Cajun Stunts, Waterboy Stunts, Stunt Works Inc., Ben and Gary Jensen, Christopher J. Fanguy and Jeffery Galpin.

Bernecker, who was hired to work on the feature film, "The Loft," claims he was suspended in the air by a safety harness and was to be dropped 100-110 feet in a controlled descent. However, he claims a descender spool -- built, owned and operated by the Jensen's -- and a backup brake operated by Fanguy both malfunctioned.

The plaintiff claims he suffered a free fall from approximately 100 feet and received serious injuries when he struck the ground.

Bernecker claims the stunt was successfully rehearsed with a dummy several times, but before he was to do the stunt the parameters were changed due to a safety pad being removed and rain being added to the scene.

The defendants are accused of improperly modifying a previously devised stunt, improperly modifying a safety device, improperly adding new lines to the descender device, failing to use sufficient safety equipment, failing to properly maintain the descender device, failing to test and evaluate safety equipment, failing to properly design the stunt, failing to conduct sufficient test rehearsals of stunt, no providing a safety pad, not warning of inadequate safety devices, improperly training personnel, improperly supervising personnel and failing to prevent the incident.

An unspecified amount in damages is sought for pain and suffering, mental suffering, disability, disfigurement and scarring, loss of wages and earning capacity, medical expenses and loss of enjoyment of life.

Bernecker is being represented by Metairie-based attorney Joseph S. Piacun.

Case number 2012-02063 has been assigned to Division H Judge Michael G. Bagneris.

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