Jeffrey Harris and Stephen Lowry of Harris Penn Lowry filed a wrongful death and negligence lawsuit Wednesday afternoon in Chatham County State Court on behalf of the parents of the camera assistant killed when a train crashed into a movie set in rural South Georgia.
Richard and Elizabeth Jones, parents of Sarah Elizabeth Jones, sued rock star Greg Allman and the producers of the movie “Midnight Rider,” based on his Allman’s 2012 memoir, “My Cross to Bear.”
The lawsuit names as defendants Gregory Allman and a list of producers and contractors affiliated with the movie. Jones, 27, died, and other members of the crew were injured on Feb. 20 as they were filming a scene on a railroad trestle bridge near Jesup on property owned by Rayonier Performance Fibers, according to the lawsuit. The plaintiffs claim that the film crew had permission from Rayonier to use the property, but it did not have clearance from CSX Transportation Inc., owner of the railroad, which is also named as a defendant.
“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,” the lawsuit states. The complaint goes on to say that the defendants concealed this fact from the rest of the crew, including Sarah.
The lawsuit says the defendants selected an “unreasonably dangerous site for the filming location” and failed to take safety measures or keep a look out for trains.
The lawsuit claims that a representative from Rayonier, the property owner, told film producers that no more than two trains per day would cross the trestle. They waited for two trains to pass before they placed their equipment and set–including a metal hospital bed for a dream sequence–onto the track. When the next train approached, the crew had no way to exit the narrow track on top of the trestle, the suit said.
“Several members of the crew, including Sarah, were not able to escape the path of the oncoming train, and some crew members, equipment and the hospital bed remained on the trestle bridge as the train approached,” the lawsuit states. “The resulting train collision and the flying debris caused Sarah’s death.”
The lawsuit also alleges CSX was negligent because the crew of the first two trains did not warn the third train of the presence of the film crew near the track.
This month Allman and movie producers resolved a suit Allman brought to block the continued filming of the movie. According to the Associated Press, Allman’s attorney David Long-Daniels and director Randall Miller’s attorney Donnie Dixon told a Savannah judge that they had reached agreement, but they didn’t say whether the filming would continue. Unclaimed Freight, the production company, along with Miller and Allman are all named in the Jones lawsuit. Actor William Hurt, who was present at the scene to play Allman, withdrew from the project after the crash, the AP said.
The Daily Report is attempting to reach lawyers for the plaintiffs and the defendants. This story will be updated when more information is available.