‘Midnight Rider’ Producers Sue Insurer for Refusing to Pay Claim on $1.6 Million in Losses

'Midnight Rider' Producers Sue Insurer for

The producers of “Midnight Rider” have filed suit against its insurance company New York Marine, contending that it has refused to pay claims after the production halted and incurred at least $1.6 million in losses.

Camera assistant Sarah Jones was killed and six others were injured in a Feb. 20 accident on the set of “Midnight Rider,” a biopic of singer Gregg Allman, when a train unexpectedly came on tracks where the production was shooting a scene near Jesup, Ga.

The lawsuit was filed on Tuesday in Los Angeles Superior Court by Film Allman, the production entity that director Randall Miller and producer Jody Savin set up for the movie’s production. The suit also claims that the insurer refused to cover the project at the 11th hour as producers attempted to restart production with a revised script.

Miller and Savin, along with executive producer Jay Sedrish, have been charged with involuntary manslaughter and criminal trespass. Miller and Savin have pleaded not guilty, and Sedrish has not yet been arraigned. They also are among the defendants in a civil suit filed by the family of Jones.

In the lawsuit, Film Allman contends that its losses “are clearly covered under the policy that New York Marine issued in connection with ‘Midnight Rider'” but that the insurer has “refused to pay the claim pursuant to an agreed-upon schedule.”

“Even worse, New York Marine unjustifiably has taken the position that the policy will no longer insure ‘Midnight Rider’ on a forward going basis and has threatened to cancel the policy altogether, thereby leaving Film Allman without any insurance coverage for the restarted production,” the suit contends.

Film Allman’s lawsuit says that Miller was covered by a provision of the policy that protects the production from losses if a cast member or principal is unable to perform, with a $5 million liability for each loss. After the accident, Miller was diagnosed with post traumatic stress disorder and “was physically and psychologically unable to continue filming for several months,” the lawsuit states. Because he was covered by the policy, Film Allman submitted a claim for shutdown and startup costs, estimated to be more than $1.6 million.

Even though New York Marine agreed on a schedule of payments that would provide the cash flow to resume production, the suit contends, it made three payments but refused to make any further ones. The producers say that New York Marine “ultimate acknowledged that the policy covered the claim.”

The suit also claims that New York Marine agreed to revisions in the script and shooting locations, but that it then took the position that it was a “new” production and refused to insure the project going forward. According to the suit, the focus of the movie would be refocused on “the rock and roll world in the 1970s generally, rather than the life of Gregg Allman.”

“Film Allman cannot proceed with the film without insurance, and cannot absorb the costs associated with a further delay of the film while it attempts to procure new insurance at the last minute,” the suit states. “The latter task would be especially difficult, given the existing negative publicity surrounding both the film and the accident.

“In sum, New York Marine has sabotaged the film, the very thing that it agreed to insure and protect when it issued the policy to Film Allman.”

The suit claims breach of contract, anticipatory repudiation and breach of the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing. It also seeks declaratory relief.

A spokeswoman for the insurance company did not immediately return a request for comment.

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  1. Susie says:

    Back off! You killed a girl and the insurance company should be going after you ! How arrogant can you be?!! Best of luck staying out of jail and when out getting bonded for any and all films!

  2. Tom Fleischman says:

    You write:

    “Camera assistant Sarah Jones was killed and six others were injured in a Feb. 22 accident on the set of “Midnight Rider,” a biopic of singer Gregg Allman, when a train unexpectedly came on tracks where the production was shooting a scene near Jesup, Ga.”

    This is untrue. The train was expected. It was scheduled and was on time. The fact is that crew was trying to steal a shot and the only reason that they didn’t expect the train was because they were negligent and didn’t check all the train schedules.

    It sounds like you’re trying to whitewash something here. You should publish a correction.

  3. Gary Gonsalves says:

    Look at it this way, if they pay the claim–isn’t that more money Sarah Jones’ family can collect in their civil suit against the producers? If that is the case, I hope they pay the claim.

  4. “11th hour”? Isn’t it more like the 13th hour?

  5. Crew Member says:

    Some producers only care about money, so what a great signal this lawsuit could send if the court supported New York Marine and said if your loss is due to negligence of one of the principals, you get NOTHING.

    Hopefully New York Marine will counter sue to reclaim what they unfortunately paid them. At least now we know where they thought they were going to get the money to restart the film.

    Thank you to New York Marine for joining with the group “I Refuse to Work for Midnight Rider, For Sarah!!!”

  6. pops07 says:

    Man up, Randall Miller. You continue to hurt everyone in the business.

  7. burbanktj says:

    They refuse to shoot without insurance but had no problem shooting without a location agreement? Scum. Plain and simple.

  8. dclognag says:

    Sarah wasn’t injured. She was Killed.

  9. J.E. Vizzusi says:

    Losses? How about the loss of a human life and causing great bodily injury by reason of gross negligence resulting in Manslaughter charges. The Insurer because of the criminal actions should not pay.
    And these Producers must suffer the consequences of their actions.

  10. Clayton says:

    The first sentence of the 2nd paragraph should read “Camera assistant Sarah Jones *was killed* and six others were injured…”. Proofread people. Proofread.

  11. pivotal says:

    Randall Miller should be on his knees with gratefulness he escaped with “post traumatic stress”. He should give up any thoughts of being involved in the film industry in the future, let alone trying to resurrect this disaster. Variety, on the other hand, should issue an apology to Sarah Jones’ family and her colleagues for the huge oversight of not acknowledging that Sarah was tragically killed in Millers’s production debacle.

  12. meg conway says:

    When I read about the death of Sarah Jones in Variety and other publications I began posting about my experience in North Carolina.

    To all film makers, their companies, and actors if you think the state of Georgia was difficult to work with, you really don’t even want to drive through the state of North Carolina due to injuries and accidents that insurers routinely deny from their corporate offices elsewhere.

    Here there are no incentives for safety because the insurers are able to use an archaic discriminatory common law to deny claims, and the Buncombe County Court in Asheville North Carollina, before Judge Powell, will dismiss a court complaint and not even allow it to proceed to a lawsuit.

    Please read and educate yourselves, Hartford Insurance uses the common law in North Carolina to deny claims, and their insured, companies like Biltmore Farms will risk their reputations, along with its CEO Jack Cecil, to be allowed to devastate people’s lives.

    Here is the safe change.org link

    http://chn.ge/1fhM4si

    Protect your productions and your people.

    Meg Conway, Asheville NC

  13. Ideation20 says:

    Man insurance companies just hate paying on insurance claims….

    • Gary Gonsalves says:

      Look at it this way, if they pay the claim–isn’t that more money Sarah Jones’ family can collect in their civil suit against the producers? If that is the case, I hope they pay the claim.

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