Update on Thursday, Feb. 17, 12:25 PM: Jonathan Handel, entertainment and technology attorney as well as journalist, weighs in on Brian Panish’s involvement with the case.
“The introduction of such an apparently high-powered firm ups the ante enormously,” Handel said. “I note from the LAT coverage that Panish is citing Baldwin both in his role as producer and in his role as the accidental shooter. This is going to be a very tough case.”
The husband and son of slain Rust cinematographer Halyna Hutchins, who was fatally shot on a New Mexico set last October when Alec Baldwin discharged a live round, filed a wrongful-death suit against the actor, as well as crew members and producers of the film.
Hutchins was airlifted to a hospital in Albuquerque after being shot through the torso and died after attempted treatment.
Matthew Hutchins, on behalf of himself and his 9-year-old son, Aldous, claims that the production company “breached the most basic rules of firearm use on a film production.”
Hutchins’ attorney, Brian Parrish, said that “numerous violations of industry standards that occurred by Mr. Baldwin and others that were charged with safety on the set” as well as “reckless conduct and cost-cutting measures” were responsible for the death of the 42-year-old cinematographer.
Baldwin previously responded to the incident by claiming that he never “pulled the trigger” of the gun and it was a “one-in-a-trillion-episode.” He has repeatedly denied that there was any misconduct involved and that he was not aware of the live round’s presence on the set.
The film’s production company supports Baldwin’s claims and also denies that on-set safety was affected by any conflict amongst crew members.
“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,” the suit says. The complaint is directed against Baldwin, producer and actor in the film, Assistant Director David Halls, and armorer Hannah Gutierrez Reed, who said she believed she had loaded the Colt. 45 involved in the incident with dummy rounds.
“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 says.
It continues by alleging that “had Defendant Baldwin, the Producers, and the Rust Production Companies have 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.”
Hutchins’ estate attorney in Albuquerque, Randi McGinn, said she had expected that the case would go to trial between a year and a half to two years.
“We’re used to people coming in from out of town to play cowboy who don’t know how to use guns,” McGinn said. “You don’t hand somebody a gun until you give them safety training… No one should ever die with a real gun on a make-believe movie set.”
Three other crew members have already filed suit, including Mamie Mitchell, the script supervisor; Serge Svetnoy, the gaffer; and Cherlyn Schaefer, a key medic. Seth Kenney, the ammunition supplier for the film, has been sued by Reed Gutierrez, alleging that he had mixed live and dummy ammunition.
Baldwin and other producers of the film responded to Mitchell’s suit by arguing that the case should be thrown out as it involves a workplace accident, and should be handled by the state workers compensation system.
Representatives for Alec Baldwin have not yet responded to Los Angeles magazine’s request for comment.
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