LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - The family of a camera assistant who died on the set of “Midnight Rider,” a movie based on the memoirs of singer Gregg Allman, sued the filmmakers on Wednesday alleging wrongful death through negligence.
Sarah Jones, a 27-year-old camera assistant, was killed by flying debris from an on-set train collision, the family’s lawsuit said.
In the lawsuit filed in Chatham County State Court in Georgia, attorneys representing Jones’ parents said the “Midnight Rider” filmmakers including Allman in his role as executive producer “breached the duty owed to Sarah by failing to exercise ordinary care” that led to Jones’ death.
Her death led to widespread outrage in the film community about safety standards for film crews and led to the campaign “Slates for Sarah,” where actors and filmmakers took photos of themselves with film slates to commemorate Jones.
At the Oscars ceremony earlier this year, Jones’ name was included in the “in memoriam” tribute segment.
A representative for Allman did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Also named in the suit were director Randall Miller, production companies involved with the film and the operators of the trains and owners of the land that the incident occurred on.
On Feb. 20, the day of Jones’ death, the crew prepared to shoot a scene in Savannah, Georgia, that featured a metal-framed hospital bed on railroad tracks over a trestle bridge. The court documents said that filmmakers did not get “proper permission or approval” to shoot on the railroad tracks but had led crew to believe they had.
The crew were informed only two trains would pass on the track, so when a third train was spotted, the crew including Jones had less than a minute to evacuate the tracks. Jones was killed by flying debris from the train’s collision with the hospital bed and equipment, the lawsuit added.
Jones’ family has asked for a jury trial to determine responsibility on part of the filmmakers and transport operators in the camera assistant’s death. They also seek monetary compensation.
Reporting by Piya Sinha-Roy in Los Angeles; Editing by Cynthia Osterman