Some defendants, including Richmond Hill’s Gregg Allman, have been dropped from a lawsuit regarding the death of Sarah Elizabeth Jones on Feb. 20.
There was hearing in Chatham State Court Tuesday, but it lasted 10 minutes before being continued after attorneys said they were near a settlement. The partial resolution was announced Thursday.
Jones was the second camera assistant for the Greg Allman bio-pic “Midnight Rider” who was killed by a train during a shoot in Wayne County.
Open Roads Film was one of more than a dozen defendants in the suit filed on behalf of Jones’ family Richard and Elizabeth Jones.
Jones and production personnel representing Film Allman LLC and Unclaimed Freight Production, both named in the suit, as well as a crew that included SCAD students and actor William Hurt, were reportedly out doing a “pre-production” film test that February morning.
Under director Randall Miller the crew allegedly placed a metal hospital bed frame and mattress on the CSX railroad track. The prop was on a trestle bridge that spans the Altamaha River near Jesup.
A CSX train came barreling towards the crew leaving them no option by to run from the bridge. The train hit the bed, showering the crew in shrapnel and injuring seven. The train also hit Jones.
Raynonier Performance Fibers, another defendant, has said it gave the film crew permission to be on their land, but the railroad is property that belongs to CSX. The railroad, also a defendant, had said it denied the crew access to the tracks.
Open Roads Film has claimed it is merely a film distributor, not on scene and had no control over the crew.
C. Whitfield Caughman, an attorney representing Allman and executive producer Michael Lehman said her clients had also filed a motion to dismiss.
Thursday afternoon the Jones’ family attorney released a statement indicating they would drop the case against Allman, Lehman and Open Roads Film.
“After reviewing the many thousands of pages of documents, and other information we have obtained through the legal discovery process, it is clear that Mr. Allman and Mr. Lehman had no involvement in any of the decisions that resulted in Sarah’s death,” Jones family attorney Jeff Harris said in the release. “Our investigation has also shown that, in this case, Open Road Films was not directly involved in the poor decisions that led to this horrific event and the tragic loss of Sarah’s life.”
More motions are expected to be heard in another hearing scheduled for Nov. 13.
In addition to the civil suit, there is a criminal trial set for March 2015. Miller, screenwriter Jody Savin, executive producer Jay Sedrish and first assistant director Hillary Schwartz have been charged with involuntary manslaughter and criminal trespass in Wayne County, as well as being cited by OSHA for safety violations.