The family of Sarah Jones said today that it has reached an agreement with Midnight Rider distributor Open Road Films and producers Gregg Allman and Michael Lehman to be dropped from their civil lawsuit over the death of the camera assistant on the set of the Allman biopic.
The news comes after lawyers for Open Road told a Georgia judge on Tuesday during a motions hearing that it was close to an agreement with Jones’ family. The hearing was continued to November 13.
“This [suit] is about the production and Open Road is a distributor — we only deal with things once the film is made, there is no reason for us to be here,” Open Road lawyer Marvin Putnam said following Tuesday’s hearing in Savannah. “And I think that is what the recordings and the papers will reflect.”
Said Jones family attorney Jeff Harris today in a release: “This firm was hired by Richard and Elizabeth Jones to find out exactly what happened to their daughter, what decisions were made that led to that fateful day and to determine, and ultimately hold accountable, those who were involved. 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. 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. As a result, we are dismissing all claims against the three parties.”
Harris said the investigation continues. Deadline today revealed the results of a federal investigation into the cause of the accident on the Doctortown train trestle in February in which Sarah Jones was killed by a train. The federal probe reveals a systematic indifference to safety and health that led to the tragedy. It resulted in the indictments of Midnight Rider director Randall Miller, his wife/producer Jody Savin, unit production manager/exec producer Jay Sedrish and first assistant director Hillary Schwartz on criminal trespass and involuntary manslaughter charges. That criminal trial is set to begin March 9.
“The legal process is working and questions are being answered,” Richard Jones said today on behalf of the Jones family. “During a very difficult and trying time for our family, Gregg Allman and Michael Lehman demonstrated their genuine sorrow over the loss of our daughter and their willingness to work with us in the future to ensure safe film sets for all. For that, we are grateful.”
Other key motions still must be decided in the civil suit against landowner Rayonier Performance Fibers and a dozen others.