Gregg Allman Movie Producers Face Wrongful Death Lawsuit
The parents of Sarah Jones, a 27-year-old camera assistant who was killed while filming the movie, have filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the producers of the upcoming film.
According to the Los Angeles Times, the lawsuit names the production company, Unclaimed Freight Productions, local production partner Meddin Studios, CSX Transportation and Open Road Films.
The filing, which asks for unspecified punitive damages, also targets the unit production manager, Jay Sedrish, first assistant director Hillary Schwartz and Allman, who was serving as an executive producer on the film.
Jones was killed, and six other people were injured, when a freight train crashed into the crew during filming. According to the lawsuit, there were several safety violations that occurred that led to the tragic accident, including the fact that producers did not have permission from CSX to film on the railway.
The complaint also says producers did not take several standard safety precautions, including not having a safety meeting prior to filming, and did not have a medic or a railway representative on site.
"By committing these acts, or failures to act, the 'Midnight Rider' defendants operated without minimum safety precautions and contrary to standard industry practices for productions of this scale and for productions involving dangerous filming conditions," the suit, prepared by the Atlanta firm of Harris Penn Lowry, maintains.
The accident occurred because the crew had been told only two trains passed on the bridge that they were filming on that day. After the second train passed, the crew placed a metal bed on the tracks to film a dream sequence scene, when a third train, “as wide as the trestle bridge," according to the lawsuit, rapidly approached. While running towards the train, in an effort to get off the bridge, several crew members, including Jones, were unable to get off of the bridge in time.
“While the crew had been told they would have 60 seconds to remove themselves, the equipment, and the hospital bed from the trestle bridge, the train approached with a rapid speed and the crew had less than 60 seconds to react,” the lawsuit continues.
Actor William Hurt, who was originally slated to portray Allman in the movie, pulled out of the biopic after Jones' death, citing the unsafe procedures that led to the accident.
“I said, ‘Sixty seconds is not enough time to get us off this bridge,’ he recalls. “There was a communal pause. No one backed me up. Then, we…just went ahead. I took off my shoes, got on the heavy, metal hospital bed and began preparing … We didn’t have sixty seconds. We had less than thirty.”
Allman originally filed a lawsuit requesting the production company cease making the film, but apparently had a change of heart. The singer unexpectedly dropped his lawsuit against producer Randall Miller during court proceedings.
“We have come together and reasoned with one another,” Allman's attorney said.
A criminal investigation into the accident is ongoing.