Sarah Jones’ Family Awarded $11.2 Million in ‘Midnight Rider’ Suit

Sarah Jones
Safety for Sarah

A Georgia jury has ruled in favor of Sarah Jones’ family in its civil suit against CSX Transportation in connection with the camera assistant’s 2014 death and awarded them $11.2 million.

The state court jury in Savannah, Ga., decided unanimously to award the family nearly $2 million for pain and suffering and $9.2 million for the economic loss from Sarah Jones’ life, according a spokeswoman for the attorneys for the family. The jury also assigned CSX 35% of the fault.

Other defendants are production company Film Allman and Rayonier.

Related

Randal Miller Midnight Rider Prosecution Sarah Jones

Judge Rejects ‘Midnight Rider’ Director’s Suit Against Insurance Company

Jones was killed and six others were injured on the set of “Midnight Rider” outside Doctortown, Ga., on a railroad trestle above the Altamaha River after a train came down the tracks at 58 mph during production. The crew had less than one minute to evacuate the location and the train ran into a metal bed being used by the crew for a scene that was part of a dream sequence in the Gregg Allman biopic. Jones was struck by shrapnel that propelled her toward the moving train.

Jones’ family sued CSX, alleging that the railroad did not follow company policy. Filmmaker Randall Miller settled with the family in late 2014 and spent a year in jail after pleading guilty to felony involuntary manslaughter and criminal trespass.

The production company did not secure a permit from the owner of the tracks, CSX Transportation Corp. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration issued nearly $75,000 in safety fines. An appeals panel upheld the sanctions after they were challenged by Film Allman, the company that Miller and his wife, Jody Savin, set up to make the independent feature.

Jones’ family started the Safety for Sarah movement to advocate for increased safety in film production.

The parents, Richard and Elizabeth Jones, released a statement after the verdict:

“Elizabeth and I have spent the last 3 plus years wanting to understand how our daughter, Sarah Elizabeth Jones, tragically lost her life. That search has now come to a close.

Sarah’s life was a bright beacon of hope that was snuffed out too soon.

Elizabeth and I want to thank our attorney, Jeff Harris, his partners and exceptional staff, who worked so hard for Sarah. We also would like to thank our Columbia attorney Jake Moore for his guidance.

We felt that this trial was necessary in order to learn what happened that tragic day of February 20, 2014. It is only with the discovery of what could have been done differently that we might avoid another similar tragic loss of life.

We have learned much from this trial. No doubt that the decisions made by those in charge of Film Allman, LLC were foolish, criminal and, in our view, selfish. That said, this trial disclosed a number of exceptionally poor judgements and ignored opportunities by CSX Transportation to prevent this tragedy. Frankly, I believe that the evidence in this trial indicated that CSX has systemic issues that need corrected. We miss you Sarah.”

 

Filed Under:

Want to read more articles like this one? SUBSCRIBE TO VARIETY TODAY.
Post A Comment 18

Leave a Reply

18 Comments

Comments are moderated. They may be edited for clarity and reprinting in whole or in part in Variety publications.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

  1. coloradotennisfan says:

    The judgment seems bizarre. What policies were not followed? How can a business be liable for criminal activity by others? This case seems like another situation of jackpot justice against deep pockets. CSX is a private company with shareholders, employees, and customers who have been victimized by this ridiculous judgment. I have tremendous sympathy for the victim, but CSX was not responsible.

  2. I don’t think this is right. So because the director couldn’t pay anything the railroad has to pay? She had every opportunity to not participate in the film if she felt that her safety was at risk. It’s a tragic incident but the train has the right away.

  3. Weary says:

    Let me get this straight – they were trespassing on CSX property and got hit by a train. And this is the fault of CSX??

  4. Dot Plogger says:

    Well, I guess it pays to be stupid.

  5. Crystal Brooks says:

    I don’t see what the railroad did wrong. They had no permission to be there. Secondly, they only had a minute to get off the tracks. So it’s their fault they couldn’t stop the train in time? This is truly sad. But I hope the company appeals this. They are a victim too. I’m sure they didn’t want to see this loss of life.

    • Nan says:

      I have to agree. But people only sue where the deep pockets are. It’s a shame that the railroad had to pay for the producer’s stupidity. I doubt anyone will get to film on tracks owned by them, even safely, again.

  6. mypoorhoney says:

    Just curious how CSX was at fault?

  7. JE Vizzusi says:

    You can’t put any price on a human life even as tragic the loss of Sarah. The family initially stated publicly there interest in Justice some may say money later.. but I say somebody needed to pay for the damages in loss of life. I hope all in the biz remember the name Randall Miller and Associates once they are released from Prison. To even think this guy may Direct again is unthinkable. My love for Sarah and Family and the money can be put to great use in making every set safe. @JEV1A

  8. So sad to have lost Sarah in such a manner. No amount of money could be paid to family members in exchange of the true value of a loved one. All to often producers do not think of the safety of crew members in order to “get the shot” or to “make their day”. It’s just a movie….

  9. 1Ronald says:

    Now if they would pour some more of that money into infrastructure to clear up required slow speeds for “heat restrictions” and “switch problems” we could all breathe a sigh of SAFE relief. Remembering when the US government owned the railroads and would and could get it right if the tracks reverted back to Federal ownership and oversight. No train engineer wants to stop his train and get out and manually throw that switch himself. Nor should passengers suffer such avoidable delays with much needed upgrades to equipment.

    • tucksbrew says:

      You really don’t know what your talking about, do you?

      1) The railroads ARE under Federal oversight
      2) It is those Federal Regulations that dictate slow speeds during excessive heat
      3) High Carbon Steel expands when it’s hot, the forces exerted on the trail, ballast and sub grade by a mile long train in high heat is tremendous, and those speed restrictions exist to minimize the chances of a derailment and causing a misalignment of the track.

      It’s always a good idea to have some notion of the subject at hand before commenting and making a full of yourself

      • tucksbrew says:

        @ Weary

        “Grammar Nazi
        A captious individual who cannot resist the urge to correct a spelling and/or grammar mistake even in informal settings. After pointing out the linguistic shortcomings in others, a Grammar Nazi feels a strange sense of twisted and unconstructive intelligentsia delight.

        While proper grammar usage is all well and good, a Grammar Nazi cavils even insignificant errors in English to somehow win an argument. Of course, rather than being genuinely persuasive in an argument, pointing out English errors is a weak attack only on the typist’s credibility and never has any bearing on the underlying premises and assertions therein. ”

        You’re lame attempt at dismissal over the fat fingering of one word, only highlights just how pathetic and flawed your original point of departure is.

        Now, go back to your corner. The adults are talking

      • betts grady says:

        well crap, Weary, the statement from Richard and Elizabeth Jones ends with “…needs corrected,” instead of “…needs correcting.” Maybe we should disregard the whole article?

      • Weary says:

        You don’t know the difference between your and you’re. We’re supposed to grant you credibility?

      • Dot Plogger says:

        Well, I guess it pays to be stupid.

    • JE Vizzusi says:

      Hi Sandra.. so true! So many times between the yelling and screaming, I have screamed back “Its Only a Damn Movie! These Producers-Director did everything you could possibly do wrong and then tried to get away with it. Shady Filmmakers put a bad name on everyone else struggling so hard to make it. Justice for Sarah!

  10. Brian says:

    CSX is just one more victim of Randall Miller and his wife. It is a travesty that the railroad has been found at all liable. People were trespassing on RR property, after being told no. Sarah’s loss is so tragic but this makes a mockery of the justice system.

    • Jamie says:

      totally agree…..the money should come out of the production company, the director, the producers, the first AD and location manager. How dare them jeopardize a crew members life with their blatant disregard for safety

More Film News from Variety

Loading