Family of woman killed on set of Gregg Allman biopic awarded $11.2 million

Reuters News
Posted: Jul 18, 2017 12:02 PM

By Rich McKay

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

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

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, the film worker's 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, court records show. 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 charges stemming from the crash, court records show.

He was sentenced to two years in county jail and eight years probation as well as a $20,000 fine. All charges against Jody Savin, Miller's wife and business partner, were dropped.

Jeff Harris, a lawyer for the Jones family, said the family had closure, but can never get their daughter back.

"This has been cathartic for them," Harris said, adding that the family has established a non-profit group, "Safety for Sarah," dedicated to promoting safety on movie sets.

(Editing by Frank McGurty and G Crosse)

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