Entertainment & Arts

Gregg Allman and producers sued over film crew death

Musician Gregg Allman Image copyright AP
Image caption The crew were making a biopic about musician Gregg Allman

The parents of a camera assistant who was killed while shooting footage for a biopic about Gregg Allman are suing the musician and the film's producers.

Sarah Jones, 27, died after being hit by a train during filming in February.

Allman, whose memoir was the basis for the film Midnight Rider, is one of 10 individuals cited in the legal action.

The case claims film-makers "selected an unreasonably dangerous site for the filming location" and failed to take actions to adequately protect the crew.

"We don't want this to happen again," Sarah Jones' father told The Hollywood Reporter.

"That's kind of the bottom line. What needs to happen to make sure that's the case?"

The camera assistant was struck after the crew placed a bed on the railway tracks in Doctortown, Georgia, while filming a dream sequence.

It is understood the crew were expecting two local trains to pass through, but a third had arrived unexpectedly. A warning whistle was blown, but they had less than a minute to remove the bed from the track.

Jones was struck by the train and six other crew members were injured by flying debris.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption William Hurt, who was to star as Allman in the film, pulled out after the train accident

Legal papers were filed on Wednesday on behalf of Jones' parents in Chatham County State Court in Georgia, where the accident occurred on 20 February.

Her mother Elizabeth said the legal action was "a way of finding out what did happen on the tracks that day".

"Why did they choose that track?" she added. "What went wrong where our daughter died?"

Allman is being sued in his capacity as an executive producer of the film. Also cited are the film's director Randall Miller, his production company Unclaimed Freight Productions and several of his assistants.

The action also names eight corporations including CSX Transportation, which owns the railway tracks where the crash took place, and Rayonier Performance Fibers, which owns the land surrounding the crash site.

It states the filmmakers "failed to secure approval for filming from CSX [and] concealed their lack of approval from CSX from the cast and crew".

It also states a CSX company employee wrongly told the crew "only two trains would pass by on the railroad track per day".

It says CSX did not give permission for the crew to film on its tracks, but claims the company knew shooting would be taking place in the area and should have taken precautions.

Local police investigators say Miller's crew had permission to be on the property alongside the bridge, but CSX Railroad denied giving producers a permit to be on the tracks themselves.

Last week, Allman dropped his own legal action against the film-makers - part of a bid to win back the film rights to his life story - after he and Miller reached an out of court agreement.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Director Randall Miller was present at the accident in February, and was pulled to safety by fellow crew members

Filming was suspended in the aftermath of the train tragedy, and actor William Hurt - who was due to play Allman - pulled out of the production.

Allman also issued a personal plea to Miller to stop film production.

"I am asking you from a personal perspective not to go forward... The reality of Sarah Jones' tragic death, the loss suffered by the Jones family and injuries to the others involved has led me to realise that for you to continue production would be wrong."

During a court hearing in Allman's lawsuit, the director claimed his assistants were responsible for location permits and safety precautions.

Miller - who was present at the incident - denied any suggestion he was cavalier about safety.

The Jones' lawyer, Jeffrey Harris, said he hoped the legal action would help resolve the various different accounts of what led to the accident.

"One of the reasons why we've named a number of defendants is we have a number of people telling conflicting stories about what happened that day," he said.

"The only way to get to the bottom of it is to put them under oath and determine exactly what happened."

Authorities have yet to decide whether to file criminal charges.

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