Gregg Allman Files New Claim Against ‘Midnight Rider’ Producers

Gregg Allman Sues Midnight Rider Producers

Singer Gregg Allman, the subject of the “Midnight Rider” project, has filed a new claim against the producers of “Midnight Rider” contending that they agreed to indemnify him from any liability for the Feb. 20 accident on the set that killed camera assistant Sarah Jones and injured eight others.

Allman, in a filing in Chatham County Court in Georgia on Tuesday, also is seeking a dismissal from the Jones’ family civil lawsuit, suggesting that the accident occurred as the filmmakers attempted to “steal a shot” on a live train trestle. Although they had executive producer credits, Allman and his manager, Michael Lehman, say that such a designation was a “courtesy” and they had no influence over the actual production.

Allman and Lehman were among the 18 defendants named in the suit brought in May by Jones’ parents, Richard and Elizabeth.

Allman and Lehman say that they signed an agreement with Unclaimed Freight Prods., the company owned by director Randall Miller and producer Jody Savin, that includes indemnification. But they say that Unclaimed Freight has failed to “provide any substantive response.”

In seeking dismissal from the Jones family civil suit, Allman and Lehman say they had “no authority or control over the selection of locations for filming. This is especially the case for a pre-production excursion in which others sought to steal a scene shot on a live train trestle.”

Allman and Lehman say that they “cannot be held responsible for unsafe conditions,” and point out that the Jones family lawsuit does not even claim that they were present at the location, spoke with Sarah Jones or “had authority over physical production, safety precautions or in seeking permission to film on the trestle.”

The Feb. 20 accident occurred when a train on CSX tracks unexpectedly came as the production was shooting on a trestle in Doctortown, Ga. The production had permission to be on the property surrounding the tracks, but CSX says they did not have permission to be on the tracks themselves.

Miller, Savin, executive producer Jay Sedrish and first assistant director Hillary Schwartz are each facing criminal charges of criminal trespass and involuntary manslaughter. Each had pleaded not guilty and a trial is scheduled to begin in March.

In May, Allman sought an injunction in Georgia state court to stop the production, contending that the producers’ option for his life rights had expired. Although there was a hearing in his case, he settled the litigation. The production has not proceeded.

Allman’s latest filing cites testimony from the May hearing, in which Miller said that Allman and Lehman were not informed of plans to shoot on the train trestle.

Although they are seeking dismissal from the Jones family’s lawsuit, Allman and Lehman said in a footnote that they “have great sympathy and respect for Ms. Jones, her family and the terrible events they have endured.”

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  1. Anonymous8 says:

    A few words on indemnification. An indemnifiation clause between Allman and Miller/Savin does not necessarily mean a highly involved party like Allman can not be sued. What it really means is if they are found accountable in the civil claim, they can seek restitution from Miller and Savin’s contractual agreement to protect them financially.

  2. Anonymous8 says:

    Gregg Allman sought out Miller and Savin to make a film about him. Miller and Savin already had a public reputation of being reckless with safety issues, so by supporting them Gregg helped attract financing, actors and Open Road Films/AMC Theaters/Regal Cinemas as a distributor. You can’t just sign a contract to erase all of that and the degree that Allman clearly was involved in the production.

  3. John Shea says:

    I see nothing that Allman did or failed to do that contributed in any way to Sarah Jones’ death. But all too often Mr. Bumble is proved right and the law IS an ass!

    • Anonymous8 says:

      John, Allman sought out Miller and Savin to make a film about him. He chose mediocre filmmakers so he could have full control over the telling of his life that frankly ain’t pretty. They had a track record in Allman’s home town of ignoring safety issues, and yet he chose to partner with Miller and Savin. Their last two films CBGB and Savannah were awful, and The Drummer project they had worked on for years had fallen apart. Why Allman was choosing to put his name behind them to bail them out and launch the financing for this film is a mystery. Court documents have established he did not even require them to pay up front for the film option. Allman is no angel, this tragedy would not have happened without his support of the producers. Miller testified Allman went over the script just days before the tragedy. This was Gregg Allman’s film about himself, don’t be fooled by fan adoration.

      • Anonymous says:

        Per the Jones’ statement I am sure Allman will be a strong advocate for only working with film producers who have an A+ safety record, attitude, and plans.

      • John Shea says:

        I am not an adoring fan of Greg Allman, and you are doing precisely what you first criticized, i. e. trying the case in this comments section. So indeed, lets leave the case to the DA, jury and judge to evaluate.

  4. J.E. Vizzusi says:

    This really does in the accused when their own Exec. Producer and Subject of the Film states on the record the Producer and Director werev”stealing the shot”. But that still does not exempt himself from liability since he had to approve said Producers, Director and Production Company to shoot the Film. If its written exactly in a Agreement that he is not responsible if there is death and or injury, then yes he could ask for the Judge for a dismiss of his name within each suit filed against himself but it would be president to do so. The state should of asked for a speedy trial as now to wait for next year for the criminal case to procede, the case becomes more convoluted each day. Clearly now you have to presume manslaughter caused by negligence especially when the Financier blames the Producer and Director. I hope and pray for justice for Sarah Jones.

    • Anonymous8 says:

      J.E. The case will be tried in court, not the comment sections of articles, so your implication “the case becomes more convoluted every day” seems to imply the DA has gone over her case with you. As we know this is false, lets leave the case to the DA, jury and judge to evaluate. This case was complicated by the many parties involved, none of which reside in Wayne County, so the time frames are not surprising.

      • Anonymous8 says:

        J.E. You have repeatedly on many many articles made the claim of overcharge. Please read the Georgia Criminal Code and Involuntary Manslaughter. It DOES NOT require proving intent or negligence. It only requires proving criminal trespassing, which Miller has basically admitted to in a court of law already, and since a death occured during the commission of that misdemeanor, it triggers involuntary manslaughter.

        If anything it is an undercharge and Murder with Implied Malice, GA’s version of negligent homicide, seems like it should be considered. The current charges will not be difficult for the DA to win. Hopefully federal charges for blocking a train, causing it to emegency break at 58 mph and causing the collision will result in more serious federal charges.

        But yes, in addition to this there needs to be a lot of changes in the film business to greatly improve safety. We will never forget Sarah, Brent Hershman, Joe Tuck, Daniel Duffey Harris, Amrik Singh Gill and too many others who never should have died making a movie or TV show.

      • Anonymous8 says:

        J.E. I am not saying comments are not important, but I disagree there is confussion for the judge. In the civil case there are three elements. The group of criminals directly and willfully caused the dangerous situation. Allman, Open Road, GPF and others partnered with this group who were known to ignore laws and operate their business recklessly, they enabled this behavior to coninue, and Rayonier and CSX had opportunities, and a responsibility, to prevent the tragedy. They are all responsible in different ways. Just because one is clearly responsible does not dismiss the others. Yes it is a bit complicated, but I am confident it will be presented clearly to judge and jury.

      • J.E. Vizzusi says:

        Justice for Sarah is my intention and the only way this can happen is a large public and industry outcry for better safety standards on remote locations and sets. The criminal trial is set. But the civil case is a convoluted mess. Manslaughter is a stretch and maybe a overcharge and the accused could walk! So comments are utterly important as is Variety follow this heartbreaking story closely.

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