Attorneys for the family of Halyna Hutchins, the 42-year-old cinematographer who was shot and killed by Alec Baldwin on the set of the independent film “Rust,” announced a wrongful death lawsuit against Baldwin and the film’s producers on Tuesday at a news conference in Los Angeles.
Other defendants named in the lawsuit filed in Santa Fe County, New Mexico include the production’s assistant director Dave Halls, who handed Baldwin the firearm that shot Hutchins, firearm supplier Seth Kenney and the production’s armorer Hannah Gutierrez-Reed and prop master Sarah Zachry. The family is seeking compensatory and punitive damages with a trial expected to begin in 18-24 months.
The lawsuit, which can be read here, has long been expected since Hutchins’ husband hired the law firm Panish Shea Boyle Ravipudi LLP, which specializes in wrongful death claims, this past November. One of the firm’s partners, Brian Panish, is serving as lead attorney on the case after securing a $2.2 billion settlement for victims of California wildfires and mudslides last year.
Halyna Hutchins was killed on the set of “Rust” on Oct. 21 when a gun held by Baldwin discharged and fired a live, “lead projectile” that killed the cinematographer and injured the film’s director, Joel Souza. The Santa Fe County Sheriff’s Office is continuing its investigation and has not filed any charges yet.
At Tuesday’s press conference, Panish said his firm investigated the film set and interviewed crew members who witnessed the incident. The firm used that testimony and evidence found to create an animated re-enactment of the shooting [shown above], that also included clips from Baldwin’s interview with ABC News anchor George Stephanopoulos.
“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,” the lawsuit reads. TheWrap has reached out to Baldwin’s attorneys for comment.
In his interview with Stephanopoulos, Baldwin said he believed the firearm was safe and that he did not pull the trigger when it discharged.
The lawsuit and video recount complaints from “Rust” crew members that came to light in the days following the shooting, most notably emails and text exchanges from camera assistant Lane Luper complaining about lapses in firearm safety and previous accidental discharges during filming.
The lawsuit alleges that Baldwin, Halls and Gutierrez-Reed did not verify that the gun was loaded or that the ammunition was safe, and that Baldwin refused training for “cross-arm” firing, which he was rehearsing when the gun discharged.
“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 lawsuit reads.
The Hutchins claim is not the only one that has been filed over the “Rust” shooting. The production’s main medic Cheryln Schaefer filed suit last week against the film’s producers as well as assistant director Halls, Zachry, Gutierrez-Reed and firearm supplier Kenney claiming lost wages and emotional trauma. Gutierrez-Reed has filed her own lawsuit against Kenney.
The film’s script supervisor has also filed a lawsuit against Baldwin and the producers, with Baldwin’s attorneys requesting a dismissal on the grounds that “nothing about Plaintiff’s allegations suggest that any of Defendants, including Mr. Baldwin, intended the Prop Gun to be loaded with live ammunition.”