Camera assistant's parents say producers lied to cast and crew about having permission to shoot on tracks where a train killed Jones and injured seven others
The family of Sarah Jones, the crew member who was killed February 20 during pre-production filming of the Gregg Allman biopic “Midnight Rider,” has filed a wide-reaching wrongful death lawsuit against Allman, the producers and director of the film, and the owner of the train tracks and surrounding property where Jones died.
Sarah Jones’ parents, Richard and Elizabeth Jones, filed suit in the state court of Chatham County, Ga., near where the fatal accident occurred. According to the legal documents, obtained by TheWrap, the Jones’ allege that none of the “Midnight Rider” defendants named in the suit received the proper permission to film on the CSX-owned train tracks, lied to the crew about it, and failed to take proper safety precautions even knowing the danger.
Despite the fact that they planned to film a scene on active railroad tracks, and despite their knowledge of the danger presented by filming a scene on active railroad tracks, none of the Midnight Rider” Defendants, or their agents, representatives, contractors, or employees, obtained the proper permission or approval from Defendant CSX to conduct filming on the trestle bridge.
While the “Midnight Rider” Defendants knew that they did not have permission or approval from CSX to film on the railroad tracks, they concealed this fact from the rest of the “Midnight Rider” cast and crew, including Sarah.
In fact, the “Midnight Rider” Defendants falsely informed, or gave the impression to, the cast and crew, including Sarah, that they had received permission to conduct filming on the railroad tracks.
The suit names among 18 defendants Film Allman and Unclaimed Freight Productions, the production companies in charge of “Midnight Rider,” as well as director Randall Miller. Allman, who had recently settled a lawsuit with producers designed to stop them from resuming production on the film, served as an executive producer.
Crew members including location manager Charles Baxter, UPM Jay Sedrish, cinematographer Mike Ozier, and first assistant director Hillary Schwartz are also defendants in the suit. On most productions, the first AD is tasked with providing the safety briefing at the beginning of each day's shoot.
The family also names William Morris Endeavor in the suit, as it alleges the agency, which represents Ozier, served as the loan-out corporation for the DP. Several other loan-out companies for individual crew members are not yet specified in the lawsuit.
Also named in the suit is CSX and Rayonier Performance Fibers, which owns the land surrounding the CSX train tracks and gave the “Midnight Rider” production team permission to film, according to the suit. The family alleges Rayonier misinformed the production about the number of trains that passed through the area per day.
The family is seeking a jury trial and unspecified damages.
Jones was killed and seven others were injured Feb. 20 when an oncoming train struck a filming location in Wayne County, Ga. CSX Transportation said at the time that the film crew had not been given permission to film on the tracks, but an ongoing criminal investigation has yet to determine whether the crew knew it should not have been on the railway.
Pamela Chelin contributed to this report.