'Midnight Rider' Producers Charged in Camera Assistant's Death
Three producers of "Midnight Rider," a Gregg Allman biopic, have been charged in Georgia after the death of a camera assistant during a February shoot in rural Georgia.
Jody Savin, Randall Miller, and Jay Sedrish were indicted by a Georgia grand jury on July 2 on charges of involuntary manslaughter and criminal trespass in relation to the death of camera assistant Sarah Jones. The Los Angeles Times reports that in addition to Jones' death, six others were injured when a freight train "collided into the crew" during the movie's first day of production.
While things may not look good for the movie, is this the final legal cut for "Midnight Rider"'s producers?
Involuntary Manslaughter Indictment
A Georgia grand jury has indicted the three "Midnight Rider" producers on involuntary manslaughter charges, meaning there will be no hearing to determine probable cause before the trio goes to trial. The grand jury likely considered both the Wayne County sheriff's and the NTSB's investigation into the movie set train crash, finding there was probable cause to believe that Savin, Miller, and Sedrish were criminally responsible for Jones' death.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, the "Midnight Rider" team was filming a dream sequence on the railroad tracks when a train collided with the crew. Jones and others attempted to clear the tracks, but the camera assistant was unable to escape in time. THR was unclear as to whether the crew had permission to be on the tracks, but since the producers are also charged with criminal trespass, it doesn't seem likely.
In Georgia, involuntary manslaughter can be either a felony or misdemeanor depending on the circumstances of the death. When charged as a felony, for causing a death by the commission of an unlawful act (e.g., criminal trespass), involuntary manslaughter can carry a penalty of up to 10 years in prison.
Civil Cases Pending
In addition to their criminal woes, the three "Midnight Rider" producers also have to contend with civil lawsuits over Jones' death and other crew members' injuries. THR notes that "[s]everal civil suits have recently been filed" against Savin, Miller, Sedrish, and their associated companies.
Since the burden of proof for criminal charges are higher than civil ones, these cases are likely in a holding pattern until the three producers resolve their criminal cases. If convicted, any findings of negligence or recklessness by the criminal court would be fair game for these suits.
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