Once again, Alec Baldwin and Rust producers are being taken to court by crew members of the indie Western over the fatal 2021 on-set shooting of cinematographer Haylna Hutchins.
Ross Addiego, Doran Curtin and Reese Price filed suit against Baldwin and the production for negligence. The trio, who were there when the 1880s prop gun Baldwin was holding went off during rehearsal and killed Hutchins, also claim that Baldwin pulled the trigger – something the actor, who has been charged with two counts of involuntary manslaughter, has long denied.
“On October21, 2021, Defendant Alexander R Baldwin Ill fired a Colt 45 revolver towards the crew on the set of the movie Rust, killing the film’s Director of Photography — Halyna Hutchins — and injuring Ross Addiego, Doran Curtin, and Reese Price (“Plaintiffs”),” reads the jury-seeking complaint (read it here) filed in the increasingly busy New Mexico courts. “These injuries were caused by Defendants’ failure to follow industry safety rules. Defendants cut comers; ignored reports of multiple, unscripted firearms discharges; and persisted, rushed and understaffed, to finish the film.”
The filing from Albuquerque’s Virgil Law Firm also claims that “on his third draw, Defendant Baldwin cocked the hammer of the revolver with the trigger pulled and fired it towards the crew striking Hutchins, and injuring Plaintiffs.”
To that end, all three plaintiffs reveal exactly where they were in the church set of Santa Fe’s Bonanza Creek Ranch when Hutchins was shot:
The sound from the live discharge inside the small church was deafening, causing Plaintiffs to suffer blast injuries.
Plaintiff Price saw the muzzle flash of the revolver in Defendant Baldwin’s hand He felt the physical force of the gunfire in the small space. His ears began to ring. He felt as if everything was moving in slow motion. He saw Souza screaming and crawling away from Defendant Baldwin. Desperate and scared, crew members began to yank Plaintiff Price by the shirt and out of the church. Plaintiff Price realized the revolver had been fired towards him and his colleagues.
Plaintiff Addiego witnessed the same flash. He felt the same disorienting sound, force, and physical trauma from the gunshot. He heard Souza’s muffled screams and began to navigate the chaos. He became aware that he had just witnessed Defendant Baldwin fire the revolver towards him and the group in which he was standing. Hutchins and Souza fell to the ‘ground. As he examined Souza for injuries, Plaintiff Addiego saw a hole in the front of Souza’s sweatshirt. Assisted by another crew member and the set medic, Plaintiff Addiego removed Souza’s shirt and rolled him over. Souza’s scapula was shattered, and a bullet was lodged just beneath his skin. Plaintiff Addiego applied pressure to Souza’s wound until emergency medical professionals arrived.
Plaintiff Curtin felt the same sound, force, and physical trauma from the gunshot. She watched Hutchins fall to the ground right in front of her. With Hutchins at her feet, other crew members instructed Plaintiff Curtin to remove Hutchins’ headset. She bent down and removed the equipment from Hutchins’ head. She watched in shock as Hutchins grabbed at her abdomen. Plaintiff Curtin put her hands on Hutchins’ stomach, trying to find the source of Hutchins’ pain and figure out what was going on. As the chaos continued, Plaintiff Curtin was ushered out of the church. Once outside, she collapsed from the effects of the blast and the shock of the shooting.
Just weeks after Hutchins’ death, Baldwin insisted during an ABC interview with George Stephanopoulos that he “didn’t pull the trigger” on the gun that killed the cinematographer. While no one knows yet how rounds of live ammo got on the Rust set, that repeated assertion by Baldwin about not pulling the trigger was countered by the FBI in its analysis of the incident and the gun itself, detailed in a 551-page report released publicly by the Santa Fe Sheriff’s Office in November 2022. In terms echoed in this latest suit and others, the local D.A. has also alleged that Baldwin missed or gave short shrift to vital firearms and safety training on Rust.
“Plaintiffs are entitled to damages for their injuries caused by Defendants’ negligent and reckless conduct,” the sometimes vivid document goes on to say. While no specific sum of money is named in the complaint, the “compensatory and punitive damages, jointly and severally” request, plus loss of “enjoyment of life” and loss of “value of lost earnings and present cash value of earning capacity,” will likely add up to a significant amount if the verdict goes in the plaintiffs’ favor.
The latest lawsuit comes amid several other civil suits, a criminal case and a few Rust suits in which Baldwin is the plaintiff. Having entered a plea of not guilty in the criminal case February 23, Baldwin had a big win last week when a firearm enhancement statute that carried a five-year mandatory sentence was dropped by the Santa Fe D.A. after defense teams’ cries of unconstitutionality.
Lawyers for the actor had no comment Monday when contacted by Deadline about the latest lawsuit — but they have been bust of late. Among other things, on February 24, Baldwin’s team filed an unsurprising motion in LA Superior Court to hit pause on Rust script supervisor Maime Mitchell’s November 2021 filed civil suit against the actor and the film’s producers while the criminal trial goes on. Looking at a good chance of being granted, as was the judicial situation most recently with the soon to retrial Danny Masterson and the various cases against him, a hearing on that request has been scheduled for March 22 in DTLA.
As a potentially resurrected Rust also aims for a spring start in Montana with Baldwin back in his gunslinger lead role and Joel Souza directing, the new suit filed in New Mexico rips the producers for the hiring of the “inexperienced and unqualified” Hannah Gutierrez-Reed as the first Rust armorer and the double duty she did for the props department to save money. Addiego, Curtin and Price also condemn the employment of the now retired David Halls as first assistant director “despite documented complaints by former productions about Halls’ failure to maintain safe sets.”
Like Baldwin, Reed was charged on January 31 with two counts of involuntary manslaughter, carrying a maximum 18-month sentence and fines if found guilty. Set to appear on the D.A.’s witness list with widower Matthew Hutchins, various crew members and police, Halls reached a plea agreement with D.A. Mary Carmack-Altwies late last year.
Unlike camera crew member Addiego and costume department member Curtin, Rust key grip Price is also on the D.A.’s witness list at present.
As Baldwin and his NYC-based legal team push to have special prosecutor Andrea Reeb tossed from the case because of her dual role as an elected GOP New Mexico legislator, a preliminary hearing in the Rust criminal case is not expected for at least three months. That delay in a case full of delays is due in no small part to the schedules of all the prosecutors, the defense lawyers, and defendants Baldwin and Reed.
All of which means, if Rust really does go into production again, the film could be long finished before the defendants ever go on trial in the criminal case, or even this latest civil case.
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