UPDATED with video and more details: The family of slain Rust cinematographer Halyna Hutchins has officially filed a wrongful-death lawsuit over the on-set shooting by Alec Baldwin that took the filmmaker’s life last October in New Mexico.
“Halyna Hutchins deserved to live, and the Defendants had the power to prevent her death if they had only held sacrosanct their duty to protect the safety of every individual on a set where firearms were present instead of cutting corners on safety procedures where human lives were at stake, rushing to stay on schedule and ignoring numerous complaints of safety violations,” declares the complaint against star/producer Baldwin, a slew of production companies and entities, producers. Also named are some key crew members, such as armorer Hannah Gutierrez Reed and Assistant Director David Halls, who have both been at the center of the October 21, 2021 tragic incident.
“This lawsuit seeks justice for the losses of her survivors and to hold responsible those who caused her tragic death,” the 29-page filing from Albuquerque firm McGinn Montoya Love & Curry says (read it here).
“Defendant Baldwin, the Producers, and the Rust Production Companies were aware of firearms safety issues that had occurred on the set of Rust and did not take action to correct the situation and ensure that basic gun safety rules were followed on October 21, 2021,” the suit goes on to say. “Had Defendant Baldwin, the Producers, and the Rust Production Companies taken adequate precautions to ensure firearm safety on the set of Rust or if basic firearm safety rules had been followed on the set of Rust on October 21, 2021, Halyna Hutchins would be alive and well, hugging her husband and nine-year old son.”
Calling the evidence “overwhelming” and rejecting theories of sabotage, a quartet of lawyers from McGinn and LA-set Panish | Shea | Boyle | Ravipudi LLP for the family made the announcement of the filing in New Mexico on Tuesday at a press conference in the City of Angels.
Baldwin and other members of the production were sued in part for “reckless behavior and cost-cutting lead to the senseless tragic death of Halyna Hutchins,” said lead attorney Brian Parish at the start of the presser.
To further that point and because no actual footage of the shooting seems to exist, the attorneys also showed an video-game like animated and narrated video depicting the sequence of events that witnesses say occurred on the Rust set at the Bonanza Creek Ranch outside Santa Fe on October 21. The sometimes vivid video ended with a slate the said Baldwin and the production “disregarded at least 15 Industry Standards” of on-set safety, as you can see below:
Albuquerque-based attorney Randi McGinn said Tuesday that she expected a trial to occur in about a “year and a half.” Refusing to name a financial figure that the suit is seeking, lawyer Panish added that he thought a trial would last around a month.
Despite the announcement at today’s press conference, the Sante Fe Sheriff’s Office has yet to charge anyone in the tragic incident, which saw star-producer Baldwin discharge a prop gun that took the life of the production’s DP Hutchins and wounded director Joel Souza. The police’s probe of the shooting is ongoing, sources say.
Insisting to ABC in early December that he never actually pulled the trigger on what he thought was a safe weapon, Baldwin’s gun fired and killed DP Hutchins and wounded Rust director Joel Souza on in late October while the actor was practicing a “quick draw” move during a rehearsal in a church location on the set. Baldwin was interviewed by the Santa Fe Sheriff’s Office in the immediate aftermath of the shooting. He was released with no conditions or restrictions.
After months of requests by New Mexico police and as several other lawsuits have been filed in relation to the shooting,, Baldwin last month finally handed over his cell phone to the Sheriff’s department via New York law enforcement. The phone is being examined for relevant information relating to what down on October 21, 2021, police say.
On January 28, Santa Fe attorney Kristina Martinez petitioned a state court to be the personal representative of the estate of Hutchins, a procedural requirement in pursuing a wrongful death lawsuit.
The petition sent to the 1st Judicial District Court of Santa Fe County was filed “solely for the purpose of investigating and pursuing a lawsuit under the New Mexico Wrongful Death Act in the courts of New Mexico.” That letter read that Hutchins’ two “surviving immediate family members,” husband Matthew Hutchins and son Andros Hutchins, both supported the petition, which said that “any proceeds from a wrongful death case will be distributed pursuant to the personal representative’s fiduciary duty in accordance with the Wrongful Death Act.” New Mexico law provides a three-year window for filing a wrongful death action.
Also last month, Baldwin and the Rust producers asked a California judge to toss out a lawsuit from the production’s script supervisor Mamie Mitchell, filed on November 17, saying “Nothing about Plaintiff’s allegations suggest that any of Defendants, including Mr. Baldwin, intended the Prop Gun to be loaded with live ammunition.”
Additionally, Rust armorer Gutierrez Reed filed a complaint in early January against the film’s ammo supplier, armorer/mentor Seth Kenney and his Albuquerque-based PDQ Arm and Prop. company. That complaint reading, “Defendants distributed and sold prop ammunition which presented as unreasonable risk of injury, without warning of the risks that could have been avoided had the risks been disclosed…Defendants prepared dummy ammunition cartridge boxes from surplus ammunition stockpiles that comprised of both dummy and live ammunition.”
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