The attorney for Gregg Allman said Friday that it was “unfortunate, unwarranted and without merit” that his client was named in a wrongful death lawsuit filed in Georgia earlier this week by the parents of Sarah Jones, the camera assistant killed in a Feb. 20 train accident on the set of “Midnight Rider,” a biopic about the singer’s life.
Allman and his manager, Michael Lehman, were named in the lawsuit that Jones’ parents, Richard and Elizabeth, filed on Wednesday. Also named were the movie’s director, Randall Miller; producer-writer Jody Savin; its executive producers; distributor Open Road; and a number of crew members. Also named in the complaint were the railroad CSX and Rayonier Performance Fibers, which owns the land around the tracks near Jesup, Ga.
“Mr. Allman simply provided an option to acquire motion picture rights to his life story and his autobiography,” attorney David Long-Daniels said in a statement released on Friday.
The lawsuit names Allman and Lehman and others who had executive producer credits on the movie.
But Long-Daniels said that they had limited input on the production shoot. He cited a recent court hearing in Allman’s effort to halt the movie, on the grounds that the filmmakers forfeited the fights to his life story. The litigation was settled after the hearing, but only after Miller gave about an hour of testimony.
“It is undisputed from the testimony at the recent court hearing that Mr. Allman and his representative did not have any knowledge that ‘live people (would be) on a live track,’” Long-Daniels said. “My clients were not at the location when this tragedy occurred nor have they ever been to that location. In fact, they had no role in securing any location for the making of the movie or the actual physical production of the film. They provided creative input on the script and the rights about Mr. Allman’s life, and consulted about casting and music.”
The attorney for Richard and Elizabeth Jones, Jeffrey Harris, said that they filed the lawsuit in part to try to discern how the tragedy could have happened. Since then, Harris said, there have been conflicting accounts of that day.
“One of the things that (Miller) testified to was that Mr. Allman was aware of the fact that they were going to be shooting on a railroad line, which is significant because Mr. Allman, I think, is going to take the position that he wasn’t aware of that,” Harris said. “So there again is another conflict.”
In his statement, Long-Daniels said that they were confident that the claims against Allman and his representative would be dismissed. “It is unfortunate that plaintiff’s counsel has taken a shotgun approach to this tragic event,” he said.
Long-Daniels also said that Allman has reached out to express his condolences to the family and had “maintained contact with the family as recently as last week.”
He also included what he said was an April 27, 2014, email from Richard Jones to Allman’s representative, in which Jones says that he wishes “to extend my gratitude for his position regarding the Midnight Rider movie,” as well as to explore any interest Allman would have in an ABC News “20/20″ story being produced on the topic.