'Midnight Rider': Sarah Jones' Family Lawyer Blasts Train Track Owners

Randy Thompson Photography; Bobby LaBonge
The bridge over Georgia's Altamaha River, where the accident occurred (inset: Sarah Jones)

"The tragic truth is, the Defendants [CSX] failed to live up to their obligations."

The lawyer for Sarah Jones's family blasted the company that owned the train tracks on which the 27-year-old camera assistant was killed for blaming Jones for her own death.

On Wednesday, CSX entered a filing disclosing that the producers for Midnight Rider had been denied permission to be on the train tracks twice in writing. In the filing, CSX also put the responsibility of her death on Jones in defending the company's liability. Jones died while filming a scene on a train track for the Gregg Allman biopic, Midnight Rider on Feb. 20 in Wayne County, Ga.

"CSX’s attempt to blame Sarah for causing her own death is, unfortunately, not surprising given the Defendants’ behavior to date. The fact is, while the Defendants have differing accounts as to what happened on February 20th, one thing is abundantly clear — Sarah had no knowledge of the imminent danger awaiting her when she went to work that morning. To the contrary, she believed those in charge of the Midnight Rider production had taken the appropriate safety precautions and secured permission to film on the railroad tracks," Jones's parents' lawyer Jeffrey R. Harris said in a statement.

"It would also be reasonable to trust that CSX would follow its own safety measures by notifying its train operators that a film crew was setting up next to their tracks. The tragic truth is, the Defendants failed to live up to their obligations. Richard and Elizabeth Jones have been clear in their motivation behind this legal action. First, to obtain truthful answers as to what happened that day and, second, to ensure no one else — in this industry their daughter loved so very much — is ever put in danger on a film set again. Safety for Sarah," Harris continued.

Harris is reacting to language in the CSXT answer and cross-claim in which the company says, "Plaintiff's Decedent [Sarah Jones] had actual knowledge of certain open and obvious dangers, and despite full appreciation of the risks associated with these dangers, voluntarily exposed herself to said risks, thereby assuming the risk of injury."

CSX maintains that because permits were denied, the company did not send anyone to remove the crew or equipment from the train tracks. CSX blasted "the negligence of all other Defendants actually and proximately caused Plaintiff's Decedant's injuries, pain and suffering and death, rendering each liable to Plaintiffs for damages under Georgia law." The other defendants include Midnight Rider's production company, director Randall Miller and producers JaySedrish and Jody SavinGregg Allman, and Rayonier, the company who owns the land upon which the train track sit.

CSX asked for the lawsuit against it to be dismissed, punitive damages, attorneys' fees and cost of litigation. 

Email: Soo.Youn@THR.com

Sept. 4, 3:34 p.m. Updated with background information on the lawsuit.