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Update: The Pledge to Sarah app, designed to boost safety on film and TV sets in memory of Midnight Rider camera assistant Sarah Jones, is now available in the Mac and Android app stores as well as on the Pledge to Sarah website. It was created and crowdfunded by a group of anonymous production crew following the February 20 train tragedy that killed Jones and injured several other crew members.
“The site Pledge to Sarah and the Set Safety App were created because we believe that no one should ever lose their life due to an incident on a film production,” organizers said. “Whether it is an on-set safety issue or an exhausted drive home at the end of a long day, we all need to speak up and be heard.”
- Jen Yamato
Singer Gregg Allman, the subject of “Midnight Rider,” has filed a new claim against the producers of “Midnight Rider” seeking idemnification from liability for the Feb. 20 accident on the set that killed camera assistant Sarah Jones and injured eight others.
Allman, in a filing in Chatham County Court in Georgia on Tuesday, also is seeking a dismissal from the Jones’ family civil lawsuit, suggesting that the accident occurred as the filmmakers attempted to “steal a shot” on a live train trestle.
Allman and his manager, Michael Lehman, were executive producers of the movie but contend that they had no role in the production itself.
Rather, they say that they signed an agreement with Unclaimed Freight Prods., the company owned by director Randall Miller and producer Jody Savin, that includes indemnification. But they say that Unclaimed Freight has failed to “provide any substantive response.”
In seeking dismissal from the Jones family civil suit, »
- Ted Johnson
The app debuted Friday for Android users, the “Pledge to Sarah” safety awareness group announced, adding that it expected the app to become available soon at the Apple platform.
The “Set Safety” app includes access to safety hotlines for reporting unsafe working conditions and access to Contract Services Administration Trust Fund safety bulletins.
The app also is designed so that photographic evidence of safety and time card violations can be sent anonymously to industry organizations.
The “Pledge to Sarah” group raised the funds via an Indiegogo campaign.
Jones’ death has sparked heightened awareness about safety issues within the below-the-line community.
Earlier this week, a Georgia judge scheduled March 9 as the start date for the trial of four defendants facing criminal charges related to the Feb. 20 death of Jones »
- Dave McNary
Hillary Schwartz, an assistant director on the film “Midnight Rider,” became the fourth filmmaker charged with crimes stemming from the on-set train accident that killed crew member Sarah Jones. Schwartz pleaded not guilty on Tuesday to charges of involuntary manslaughter and criminal trespassing in Georgia's Wayne County Superior Court. She was indicted earlier in September on the same charges brought in July against director Randall Miller; his wife and business partner, Jody Savin; and the movie's executive producer, Jay Sedrish. Also read: ‘Midnight Rider’ Producers Cited for Willful and Serious Safety Violations by Osha A tentative trial date of was set for March 9 for. »
- Gina Hall
Updated With New Info: A trial date of March 9, 2015 has been set in the manslaughter and criminal trespass case of the four filmmakers indicted in the on-set death of 27-year-old Midnight Rider camera assistant Sarah Jones. Pre-trial motions will be heard for two days prior, on February 12-13, and jury selection will start a month later on March 9. The order was issued early this morning by Judge Anthony Harrison in the Wayne County (Ga) Superior Court during a special status conference hearing. All discovery must be entered into the court by December 10, 2014.
Meanwhile, newly indicted first assistant director Hillary Schwartz appeared in the Wayne County Superior Court Tuesday during the status conference attended by all lawyers from those indicted in this case. The court issued orders about further discovery, motions, whether cameras would be allowed in the courtroom (they will be via Rule 22 with five days notice), and other procedural issues. »
- Anita Busch and Jen Yamato
The criminal case involving the death of Midnight Rider camera assistant Sarah Jones has been expanded to include first assistant director Hillary Schwartz. Schwartz has been charged with involuntary manslaughter and criminal trespass, the same charges as those filed against director Randall Miller and producers Jody Savin and Jay Sedrish, Miller and Savin's attorney Don Samuel confirmed to The Hollywood Reporter. Schwartz was charged on Sept. 10 and is set to be arraigned on Tuesday morning at the Wayne County courthouse, Samuel added. Read more 'Midnight Rider': Sarah Jones Family Says Film's Distributor Can't Be Dismissed From Lawsuit Jones was
- Hilary Lewis
Exclusive: Criminal charges have been filed against Midnight Rider first assistant director Hillary Schwartz in the February 20 death of camera assistant Sarah Jones. Schwartz was charged September 10 with involuntary manslaughter and criminal trespass, the same two counts filed against director Randall Miller and producers Jody Savin and Jay Sedrish. Under Georgia law, a manslaughter conviction would carry a sentence of 10 years in prison. Criminal trespass is a misdemeanor and carries a potential sentence of one year.
This will come as no surprise to Hollywood’s production community, who understand that one responsibility of the 1st Ad is to help keep the crew safe on set. Schwartz was on set the day of the accident, though location manager Charley Baxter refused to show up because the production had not obtained permission to access the train tracks and made his opposition known to several crew members before the shoot.
In addition to Jones, »
- Jen Yamato and Anita Busch
Both the distributor of Midnight Rider and the owner of the land where camera assistant Sarah Jones was killed Feb. 20 denied responsibility in court filings this week for her death. The landowner even blames Jones in its filings for not exercising “ordinary care for her own safety.”
Jones’ parents are suing distributor Open Road, landowner Rayonier Performance Fibers and a dozen others for their daughter’s Feb. 20 death when a train blew through a film set on a bridge trestle. The parents’ suit says the distributor was responsible for ensuring a safe and legal shoot, which Open Road answered with an August motion to dismiss. In a new filingthis week in Georgia (read it here), Open Road claims it had no “operational control” over the film shoot.
“None of the rights granted to Open Road under the Distribution Agreement provide Open Road with control over the production. Not one,” reads the filing, »
- Jen Yamato
Exclusive: Midnight Rider location manager Charles Baxter today denied having anything to do with the railroad trestle shoot on the set of the Gregg Allman biopic, which was the setting of the February 20 death of 27-year-old camera assistant Sarah Jones. In fact, in a court filing made by his lawyer Kirk Schroeder on Friday (read it here), Baxter revealed publicly for the first time that he was unable to get permission from property owner Csx to conduct filming on the trestle. Baxter also added that he did not plan to film on active railroad tracks and that he was not present at the shoot where Jones was killed and other crew members injured. The Georgia-based location manager denies retaining responsibility for selecting shooting locations. He is also seeking an out of recovery due to workers’ compensation laws, saying all the injuries sustained were due to other people’s actions, not his. »
- Anita Busch and Dominic Patten
The grieving family of Midnight Rider camera assistant Sarah Jones isn’t letting distributor Open Road Films off easy. Lawyers for Jones’ parents, who filed a May 21 wrongful death suit against Open Road along with director Randall Miller, producers Jody Savin and Jay Sedrish, and more than a dozen other defendants for their daughter’s on-set death, responded this week to the company’s claim that it has “no causal connection” to the February 20 train tragedy. “Open Road retained responsibility for ensuring that Midnight Rider was filmed safely and legally, and its failure to live up to this responsibility caused Sarah’s death,” said the September 9 filing in Georgia state court. (Read it here.)
Delaware-based Open Road Films argued in an August motion to dismiss that they don’t fall under the Georgia court’s jurisdiction. The Jones’ response outlines numerous precedents setting up the company’s transactional business dealings in the state, »
- Jen Yamato
The family of Sarah Jones, the camera assistant killed on the set of “Midnight Rider,” says that the film’s distributor Open Road Films bears liability for the accident, challenging the company’s effort to dismiss itself from the case.
Open Road was among the 16 defendants named in a civil suit filed in May by Jones’ parents, Richard and Elizabeth, but in August the distributor claimed that it was not liable because it was not involved in the production of the movie, and because it was never completed, it did not release it. It also challenged jurisdictional issues.
But in a filing on Tuesday in a Georgia state court in Chatham County, Jones’ family said that Open Road “essentially facilitated the production of ‘Midnight Rider’ and, at a minimum, there is a factual question regarding the extent of Open Road’s involvement and knowledge regarding the making of ‘Midnight Rider. »
- Ted Johnson
The producers of Midnight Rider will fight federal charges that they committed workplace safety violations in the February 20 accident that killed 27-year-old camera assistant Sarah Jones. Production company Film Allman, set up by director Randall Miller and producer Jody Savin for the Gregg Allman biopic, was slapped with an Osha fine of $74,900 last month for “one willful and one serious safety violation” in the tragedy. They had until today to pay or dispute the charges. Today the filmmakers issued a notice of contest for both violations and the fine, a Department of Labor rep tells Deadline.
This is just the latest legal tangle for Miller and Savin. Along with producer Jay Sedrish, the filmmakers were each charged with involuntary manslaughter and criminal trespassing by prosecutors in Wayne County, Ga. All three pleaded not guilty. They’re also named among a litany of co-defendants in a wrongful death civil suit filed »
- Jen Yamato
Update, 4:00Pm: A lawyer for the parents of fallen Midnight Rider crew member Sarah Jones criticized rail company Csx’s attempt to deflect blame onto their daughter, the 27-year-old camera assistant who was killed in a February 20 train collision in rural Georgia. In a cross claim against producers Randall Miller, Jody Savin, and Jay Sedrish filed this week, Csx denied its own negligence in the accident, saying Jones “voluntarily exposed herself to risks” and failed to protect her own safety in the events leading up to the tragedy. She was killed and several other crew members were injured when a freight train barreled into equipment and a hospital bed that had been set up on Csx-owned train tracks on the first day of filming.
“Csx’s attempt to blame Sarah for causing her own death is, unfortunately, not surprising given the Defendants’ behavior to date,” said a statement issued by the Jones family lawyer, »
- Jen Yamato
Railroad operator Csx Transportation has filed a cross claim against the filmmakers behind “Midnight Rider,” contending that the company twice denied them permission to film on train tracks where a Feb. 20 accident killed Sarah Jones and injured six others.
In a filing in Chatham County, Ga., Csx that it “unequivocally denied each request in writing, citing a company policy which prohibits filming on Csxt’s property due to safety and security reasons.”
Csx contends that prior to the accident, the filmmakers or their agents twice sought permission to shoot on the tracks that pass over the property of a Rayonier paper factory and the Altahama River near Jesup, Ga. The requests were turned down.
The train company, in its civil claim for intentional trespass, is seeking damages and attorneys fees from director Randall Miller, producer Jody Savin, executive producer Jay Sedrish and Unclaimed Freight Prods.
Csx is among the defendants »
- Ted Johnson
Jay Sedrish, the executive producer and unit production manager of the Gregg Allman biopic “Midnight Rider,” entered a not guilty plea on Monday in response to involuntary manslaughter and criminal trespass charges stemming from the death of camera assistant Sarah Jones, a spokesperson for the Wayne County Superior Court Clerks office told TheWrap. “Midnight Rider” director Randall Miller and producer Jody Savin pleaded not guilty to the same charges last month after turning themselves in to the Wayne County Sheriff's Office. Also read: ‘Midnight Rider’ Filmmakers Deny Criminal Wrongdoing: We Emphasize Safety of the Crew Sedrish's lawyer, John Ossick, has »
- Greg Gilman
Midnight Rider executive producer and production manager Jay Sedrish has waived his right for an arraignment and asked the court to enter a not guilty plea to criminal charges in the death of camera assistant Sarah Jones. Sedrish, director Randall Miller and producer Jody Savin were charged with involuntary manslaughter and criminal trespass in Jones' death. Jones was struck and killed by a train in February on the Georgia set of the Gregg Allman biopic. Sedrish's lawyer, John Ossick, confirmed that Sedrish waived his right for an arraignment and asked the court to enter a not guilty plea by mail.
- Hilary Lewis
4th Update, August 18, 7:58 Am: Jay Sedrish, the executive producer/unit production manager of the ill-fated Gregg Allman biopic Midnight Rider, waived his right for an arraignment early this morning and has entered a not guilty plea to criminal trespassing and involuntary manslaughter in the on-set death of 27-year-old assistant camera assistant Sarah Jones. She died on the first day of shooting the picture in Georgia, on February 20, after a train hit a metal bed that was placed on the tracks to film a dream sequence. Several others were injured by flying debris. Sedrish, director Randall Miller and Miller’s wife/producer Jody Savin were all criminally charged in the matter. Miller and Savin entered not guilty pleas last month.
Sedrish’s not guilty plea, which was entered early this morning to the Superior Court of Wayne County by his attorney John Ossick, comes only a week after the U. »
- Anita Busch and Jen Yamato
Sarah Jones, the 27-year-old camera assistant who died earlier this year when she was struck by a train in Georgia while filming the Gregg Allman biopic Midnight Rider, was remembered during the In Memoriam montage during Saturday's Creative Arts Emmys. The death of Jones has sparked a movement for safer sets and the slogan "Never Forget. Never Again." The film's director, Randall Miller, producer Jody Savin and executive producer Jay Sedrish have been charged with involuntary manslaughter and criminal trespassing. For the full list of tonight's Creative Arts Emmys winners, click here.
- Carolyn Giardina
Producers of Midnight Rider, the Gregg Allman biopic that cost camera assistant Sarah Jones her life, have been cited by the Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (Osha).
Midnight Rider Production Co. Cited By Osha
Osha announced Thursday that the production company was guilty of “one willful and one serious safety violation” resulting from their decision to film on train tracks, despite not having permission or a proper safety plan in place.
“Employers are responsible for taking the necessary precautions to protect workers’ health and safety, and the entertainment industry is no exception. It is unacceptable that Film Allman LLC knowingly exposed their crew to moving trains while filming on a live track and railroad trestle,” said Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health Dr. David Michaels.
In February, the crew of Midnight Rider was filming on train tracks outside Doctortown, Ga., when a train came, »
The U.S. Department of Labor has cited the production company filming the Greg Allman biopic Midnight Rider, connected to the death of 27-year-old camera assistant Sarah Jones in February. Jones was killed by a moving train during filming in Wayne County, Ga. Today, the Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration cited the producers with one willful and one serious safety violation for exposing employees to hazards and recommended a penalty totaling $74,900. Eight other crew members were injured in the incident.
“Employers are responsible for taking the necessary precautions to protect workers’ health and safety, and the entertainment industry is no exception, »
- Jeff Labrecque
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