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.”