Gregg Allman and his manager Michael Lehman have been dismissed from the various lawsuits brought against the production team of the upcoming biopic, Midnight Rider, after a train accident injured several and killed crew member Sarah Jones. While all plaintiffs voluntarily dropped their claims against Allman and Lehman, other parties remain implicated in the lawsuit.
“Gregg and I are pleased that the claims against us have been dismissed,” Lehman said in a statement. “But it’s still with a heavy heart. We continue to have great empathy for the pain Sarah’s family is enduring and for the other members of the crew who were injured.”
Allman added: “We know that this news doesn’t bring Sarah back. This was a terrible tragedy. Sarah’s memory must be an ongoing testament to film safety.”
Jones, a second camera assistant, was killed in February while the crew filmed a dream sequence involving two trains on a railroad track in Jesup, Georgia. When a third train unexpectedly appeared, the crew scrambled to remove a mattress from the track and clear the area; according to witnesses, the crew had only a minute to react, and Jones was struck by the train before she could make it to safety.
Six other people were hurt in the incident, including hairstylist Joyce Gilliard, who also filed suit against the production alongside train operator CSX and Rayonier, who own the land next to where the incident occurred. Makeup artist Antonyia Verna also sued the Midnight Rider production team after sustaining injuries, claiming that Open Road Films failed to take “minimum safety precaution” — from not having a lookout to not holding a pre-shoot safety meeting to not attaining an on-set medic – while also filming in an “unreasonably dangerous site” without getting proper permission and clearance.
Following the tragedy, Allman — who is an executive producer — called on director Randall Miller to cease production, and at one point filed a lawsuit of his own to stop production, though he later dropped it. Production on Midnight Rider has been suspended and lead actor William Hurt (who was set to portray Allman) has withdrawn from the film.