July 18, 2017 / 4:03 PM / 5 months ago

Family of crew member killed on Allman movie set awarded $11.2 million

ATLANTA (Reuters) - A Georgia jury has awarded more than $11.2 million to the family of a film crew member who was killed in 2014 on the set of a biographical movie about rock singer Gregg Allman, court records show.

A six-day trial in the State Court of Chatham County concluded late Monday with the jury unanimously agreeing on the civil award to the family of Sarah Jones, according to the court records.

Jones was killed when a moving train hit props and equipment staged on a railroad bridge and trestle south of Savannah for the never-completed film “Midnight Rider,” about Allman, who died in May.

After the award, her parents, Richard and Elizabeth Jones, said they had spent more than three years trying to understand how their daughter lost her life.

“That search has now come to a close,” they said in a statement.

Railroad operator CSX Corp, which owns the tracks, is responsible for $3.9 million of the liability, according to court records. The company said it will appeal the verdict.

“CSX is deeply sympathetic to the terrible loss suffered by the family of Ms. Sarah Jones, but respectfully disagrees with the conclusions reached by the jury,” CSX spokesman Rob Doolittle said on Tuesday.

Jacksonville, Florida-based CSX has maintained that the movie production company failed to secure permits to use the tracks for filming.

Filmmaker Randall Miller previously settled with the family and spent about a year in jail after pleading guilty in 2015 to involuntary manslaughter and trespassing stemming from the crash, court records show.

He was sentenced to two years in county jail and eight years probation and fined $20,000. All criminal charges against Jody Savin, Miller’s wife and business partner, were dropped.

Jeff Harris, a lawyer for the Jones family, said relatives have had closure.

“This has been cathartic for them,” Harris said, adding that the family has established a nonprofit group, “Safety for Sarah,” dedicated to promoting safety on movie sets.

In addition to CSX’s liability, the award included the following payments, according to court documents:

--$3.14 million from Randall Miller.

--$2 million from Rayonier Performance Fibers LLC, which owned the land where the tracks were located;

--$785,000 from Savin;

--$785,000 from movie set employee Hillary Schwartz;

--$561,000 from movie set employee Jay Serdish.

Schwartz was identified as the film’s first assistant director and Serdish as executive producer/unit production manager, according to the Deadline Headline website.

It was not immediately clear whether the award reflected the settlements previously agreed by Miller and Savin, or whether it added to their liability.

Editing by G Crosse and JS Benkoe

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