3:55pm PT by Erik Hayden
'Midnight Rider': Gregg Allman Slams 'Shotgun Approach' to Sarah Jones Lawsuit
Gregg Allman has responded to a wrongful death lawsuit filed against him by the parents of Sarah Jones, who died in a train accident on the set of biopic Midnight Rider.
A statement from the rock singer's attorney issued on Friday denies that his client had "any knowledge" that the film would be shooting on a train track and noted Richard Jones, the father of Sarah Jones, had contacted Allman prior to the suit being filed.
"While the lawsuit filed this week by the Jones family was expected, the inclusion of my clients is unfortunate, unwarranted and without merit. Mr. Allman simply provided an option to acquire motion picture rights to his life story and his autobiography," reads the statement from Allman's attorney David W. Long-Daniels. "It is undisputed from the testimony at the recent court hearing that Mr. Allman and his representative did not have any knowledge that 'live people [would be] on a live train track.' My clients were not at the location when this tragedy occurred nor have they ever been to that location. In fact, they had no role in securing any location for the making of the movie or the actual physical production of the film. They provided creative input on the script and the rights about Mr. Allman's life and consulted about casting and music."
"We are confident that the legal process will result in the ultimate dismissal of claims against Mr. Allman and his representative. It is unfortunate that plaintiffs' counsel has taken a shotgun approach to this very tragic event," the statement concludes.
Sarah Jones, a 27-year-old second camera assistant on Midnight Rider, died on Feb. 20 after being struck by a train traveling on a trestle above the Altamaha River in Wayne County, Ga.
A wrongful death lawsuit was filed in Chatham County, Ga. court by Richard and Elizabeth Jones on May 21 that listed Allman as one of several defendants who "showed willful misconduct, wantonness, oppression or that entire want of care which raises the presumption of conscious indifference to consequences."
The suit (read the complaint here) claimed that "while the Midnight Rider Defendants knew that they did not have permission or approval from [rail transportation company] CSX to film on railroad tracks, they concealed this fact from the rest of the Midnight Rider cast and crew, including Sarah."
The suit also names the film's director, Randall Miller, and executive producers Jay Sedrish, Michael Lehman, Jeffrey N. Gant and Don Mandrik among the defendants.
In Friday's statement, Allman's attorney claims that Richard Jones had sent his client an email on April 27 expressing "gratitude" days after the singer had implored the Midnight Rider filmmakers not to resume production.
"I am Sarah Jones' father. I am reaching out to communicate with Gregg Allman. While I wish to extend my gratitude for his position regarding the Midnight Rider movie, I would like to explore the possibility that may be of interest regarding a story in which ABC's 20/20 is in the process of producing on this topic," reads the email from Richard Jones to Allman, according to the singer's attorney.
On April 25, as THR previously reported, Allman sent Midnight Rider director Randall Miller a letter asking to reconsider completing the film. "While there may have been a possibility that the production might have resumed shortly after that, the reality of Sarah Jones' tragic death, the loss suffered by the Jones family and injuries to the others involved has led me to realize that for you to continue production would be wrong," Allman wrote at the time.