When the cast and crew of the movie “Midnight Rider” were told that they would be filming a scene on active railroad tracks there was no shortage of misgivings. But what did they have to fear? Would the producers and directors really put their lives in danger? Surely they had checked with the railroad company that operated on those tracks. What were the chances that every safety precaution necessary had not been taken?
It’s because of this lack of information, a recent wrongful death lawsuit claims, that a 27-year-old camera operator was killed and other crew members were injured when a train slammed into their set on February 20. The deceased victim’s family is now seeking compensation for the accident they say could have been prevented.
Even though the accident happened in another state and will be handled by a different jurisdiction, our Erie readers may still find this case relatable, especially when it comes to tort laws here in Pennsylvania. That’s because, just like here in the northeast, the victim’s family is this case is seeking damages for negligence.
They claim in their lawsuit that the film’s producers failed to get permission from the railroad before filming on the active tracks. They also claim that the producers did not check with the railroad prior to filming to see how many trains would be operating on the tracks. Among other things, the victim’s family is also accusing the producers of failing to assign a look-out prior to filming and failing to warn cast and crew about the danger their filming location presented.
Although the plaintiffs in this case may receive compensation from the film’s producers for their apparent negligence, it’s unclear whether they would receive additional compensation from one of the other parties named in the lawsuit: the railroad company CSX Transportation. Because railroad tracks in the United States are privately owned, you must first get permission from the tracks’ owners before using them. Failing to do so means that you are trespassing, which means the owner might not face liability in the event of injury or death. It’s possible that this could be the situation in this case.