As expected, the family of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins has sued actor Alec Baldwin and others for wrongful death in the fatal shooting on the set of the movie “Rust.” The complaint details evidence of negligence on the part of the production team, which includes Baldwin as a producer. The lawsuit is on behalf of Halyna’s husband, Matthew Hutchins, and their son Andros Hutchins. There is also a pending criminal investigation. As previously discussed, there is ample support for such a negligence claim and there will likely be enormous pressure to settle this case.
Hutchins filed his lawsuit in Santa Fe, New Mexico and the complaint offers a damaging summary:
“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.”
It remains a mystery how live ammunition made it on to the set where police found 500 rounds, including blank ammunition, dummy rounds and live rounds.
We know from accounts that the movie set was the source of long-standing complaints over safety and working conditions. The production company allegedly required workers to drive 50 miles a day rather than pay for hotels, according to witnesses. Workers complained that this left them exhausted on the set. The complaint fills in additional details.
Assistant director David Halls has been singled out by Baldwin and others for his role, including telling Baldwin that it was a safe or “cold” weapon. Halls previously was fired from the set of “Freedom’s Path” in 2019 over an accidental discharge on a set.
There is also a focus on the production’s armorer, Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, who also reportedly had a controversial history on safety measures, including numerous complaints on her previous film. The complaint says that Gutierrez-Reed was forced to perform functions as both armorer and assistant prop master.
The complaint also challenges the claim of Baldwin that he never pulled the trigger, an assertion that we discussed earlier as highly unlikely.
The cost cutting and fast schedule created a classic basis for a negligence action. The complaint adds some damaging details. The complaint includes a text exchange between a camera operator and a producer. In what the complaint describes as “callous sarcasm,” camera operator, Lane Luper, texted unit production manager Katherine Walters saying: “We’ve now had 3 accidental discharges. This is super unsafe.” Walters responded “Accidental discharge on the firearm? Awesome. Sounds good.”
Hutchins counsel has also released an animation of the shooting.
Here is the complaint: Hutchins v. Baldwin