Gregg Allman has reacted to a wrongful death lawsuit filed in the death of "Midnight Rider" crew member Sarah Jones. In a statement through his lawyer, The Allman Brothers Band founder calls "shotgun approach" to the lawsuit "unfortunate, unwarranted and without merit."
"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 David W. Long-Daniels.
The lawyer insists his client was not at fault in the train crash which killed camera assistant Jones and injured many. He said, "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."
Long-Daniels concludes, "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 attorney also says Allman has reached out to express his condolences to the family and "maintained contact with the family as recently as last week." Shortly after Allman asked director Randall Miller not to resume production, Sarah's father Richard Jones reportedly sent an email on April 27 to express his gratitude for the musician's position regarding the Midnight Rider movie. Richard also said, "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."
Allman did send a letter to Miller on April 25 asking the director to stop production, which was expected to resume in Los Angeles in June. He also filed his own lawsuit against the director to retain the rights to his life story, claiming the rights had expired due to missed production deadlines and the train crash had damaged his reputation. However, both parties have settled the suit out of court.
"He has legal responsibility for what happens on the shoot," the family's attorney Jeffrey R. Harris explained the inclusion of Allman in the lawsuit filed by Sarah's parents, Richard and Elizabeth Jones. "He, at least on paper, is a member of the management structure of the film."
"One of the things that (Miller) testified to was that Mr. Allman was aware of the fact that they were going to be shooting on a railroad line, which is significant because Mr. Allman, I think, is going to take the position that he wasn't aware of that," Harris said. "So there again is another conflict."
Besides Allman who serves as one of the executive producers, the defendants in the lawsuit include Miller, his writer-producer wife Jody Savin, and their production company Unclaimed Freight Productions. Also named in the lawsuit are CSX Transportation which owns the railroad tracks where the fatal accident occurred, Rayonier Performance Fibers which owns the land surrounding the crash site, and the film's distributor Open Road Films.