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Thread: Rust: accidental shooting of Halyna Hutchins

  1. #16
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    continued from previous


    Matthew Hutchins, Halyna Hutchins’ widower, settled with the Rust producers. Photographed Feb. 23, 2022. CHRIS HASTON/NBC/NBCU PHOTO BANK VIA GETTY IMAGES

    Hutchins could have looked to hold RMP’s owners personally responsible for the incident — known as “piercing the corporate veil.” Successfully doing so would have enabled him to go after money from the company’s owners, including Smith, who showcased a lifestyle of private jet travel and lodging at the Four Seasons Rancho Encantado in Santa Fe via social media during production on Rust. But attorney Sean Andrade, who specializes in litigation against special-purpose entities, says that would have been exceedingly difficult in this case because it appears as if the company followed corporate formalities to be considered a legal entity. He also notes that the creation of limited liability corporations to produce movies is normal practice.

    Another factor in Hutchins’ decision to settle may be other civil litigation currently underway. The Hutchins settlement was announced as a lawsuit from script supervisor Mamie Mitchell works its way through court. In that case, Mitchell has faced an uphill battle in attaching liability over the shooting to RMP. A Los Angeles judge in September dismissed claims of assault and intentional infliction of emotional distress against the company and producers Smith and Cheney, both of whom produced Rust through their Thomasville Pictures, because they didn’t know that Baldwin “would aim and fire the loaded weapon towards Plaintiff such that they would be jointly liable for his intentional conduct.” The order from the court reads: “In fact, Plaintiff’s allegations would show the opposite to be true: the only person who knew Baldwin was going to fire the weapon was Baldwin.”

    Since the shooting, RMP and other producers have argued in civil court and in contesting a $136,793 fine assessed by New Mexico’s safety commission that they were not responsible for supervising the production and simply financed it. They have claimed that armorer Hannah Gutierrez-Reed was “singularly responsible for all tasks associated with the use of firearms and ammunition,” including responsibilities related to “ensuring that RMP’s express prohibition against the presence of live ammunition was strictly followed, ensuring that only blanks were used when called for by the script, and that only dummy rounds were used.”

    Despite allegations that RMP ignored industry-wide norms related to the use of guns by cutting corners on safety to shoot the movie on a shoestring budget, it’s becoming increasingly likely that that company will not be apportioned much blame for the shooting.

    Mitchell and other plaintiffs could still go after Baldwin, but his liability remains uncertain. The actor has stressed that assistant director Dave Halls shouted “cold gun” — a widely understood term on film sets referring to firearms that contain no rounds — before handing him the old-fashioned revolver that killed Hutchins. (Baldwin also maintained that he never pulled the trigger, though an FBI forensic report found that it could not have discharged without someone doing so.) “Baldwin wasn’t negligent,” Sullivan says. “Somebody else was responsible for making sure the gun was empty, but he’s the only one with money that I’m aware of who’s a defendant. It’d be hard to put all of the blame on him, though.”

    Also still on the docket are lawsuits from gaffer Serge Svetnoy and medic Cherlyn Schaefer. They allege negligence against RMP, claiming the film’s producers did not hire enough qualified crewmembers to maintain a safe set. Schaefer’s suit does not name Baldwin as a defendant. A common theme across all the suits is that the safety culture on set was severely lacking. Some point to two other misfires before Halyna Hutchins was killed, in which Baldwin’s stunt double accidentally fired a blank and a prop master shot herself in the foot.

    In addition to the EP credit, there was likely a monetary component to the settlement paid by the production’s insurance and other defendants named in Matthew Hutchins’ suit. RMP attorney Spadone confirmed to THR that Rust was insured for the duration of filming under a “single insurer, with different components of coverage, in addition to workers’ compensation.” Notably, however, multiple sources tell THR that Rust didn’t secure a completion bond, which doesn’t bode well for the chances that it carried an expansive policy with deep coverage. Sullivan says, “I guarantee you they bought a cheap insurance policy. It’s rare that any [special-purpose] company buys a policy with full coverage. On a production like that — small, low-budget — do they want to pay $500,000 and get the Rolls-Royce of policies? Probably not.”

    Legal observers also emphasize that a possible strategic consideration in installing Matthew Hutchins as an executive producer on the project is to counteract negative public sentiment toward the completion and distribution of Rust. Similarly, the widower’s involvement may complicate the remaining civil litigation by other parties.

    Soltman notes the unwieldy dynamic created by the settlement in which plaintiffs in the other cases are “essentially competing with [Matthew Hutchins] for judgment” since “they’re all going after the same pot of money.”

    Andrade explains, “Matthew Hutchins now has a stake in the movie. To the extent that someone else who filed a lawsuit will get some amount of money, whether in a settlement or an eventual verdict, that would impact whatever he’s able to recover himself from the film and the ultimate profits. It was a smart move since they’re facing multiple lawsuits.”

    Meanwhile, the criminal investigation remains ongoing. In a statement on Oct. 21, the one-year anniversary of Hutchins’ death, Santa Fe’s First Judicial Dist. Atty. Mary Carmack-Altwies said she was awaiting a report from the Sheriff’s Office. She’d previously made it known that charges could be brought against as many as four people, including Baldwin, and had appointed a special prosecutor. A spokesperson for her office noted: “No one is above the law.”
    Didn't expect that...
    Gene Ching
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  2. #17
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    No escape for Baldwin

    Alec Baldwin Can’t Escape Lawsuit From ‘Rust’ Script Supervisor
    The ruling represents a major win for Mamie Mitchell after the court dismissed most claims against the producers of the movie.

    BY WINSTON CHO

    NOVEMBER 2, 2022 1:21PM

    Alec Baldwin DIMITRIOS KAMBOURIS/GETTY IMAGES


    Logo text
    Alec Baldwin must face a lawsuit from Rust script supervisor Mamie Mitchell over his role in the on-set shooting that resulted in the death and injury of two crewmembers, a judge has ruled.

    Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Michael Whitaker on Tuesday refused to dismiss claims of assault, intentional infliction of emotional distress and negligence against the actor. He found that Mitchell established “extreme and outrageous conduct on the part of Baldwin,” who “unexpectedly cocked and fired a loaded handgun” despite being aware of a disastrous safety culture on the set of Rust where producers shirked industry-wide norms related to the use of guns to shoot the movie on a shoestring budget.

    Mitchell will also be allowed to pursue punitive damages against Baldwin and his production company El Dorado Pictures for ignoring prior red flags that put them on notice of “firearms-safety-related problems on the set that endangered the cast and crew.” The judge concluded that the suit demonstrates “despicable conduct carried out by the Demurring Defendants with a willful and conscious disregard of the rights or safety of others.”

    Luke Nikas, representing Baldwin, said that the court was “required to assume at this stage that Mitchell’s allegations against Alec Baldwin were true—even though they are demonstrably false, made in bad faith, and contradict her own prior statements about what happened.” He stressed that the court dismissed some of her claims and that he “looks forward to disproving the rest of her case now that she can no longer shield her misrepresentations from the evidence.”

    The ruling is the first advancing a claim of assault against any of the defendants. Whitaker pointed to allegations detailing how Baldwin violated industry norms regarding the handling of firearms. These include the actor intentionally discharging the gun even though the scene didn’t call for it and accepting the firearm from assistant director Dave Halls despite industry norms dictating that the armorer is supposed to hand it off after showing that the gun chambers are empty.

    “The industry wide safety bulletin for use of firearms mandates that all firearms are to be treated as though they are loaded because, as Alec Baldwin knew, guns are inherently dangerous weapons,” reads the ruling, which cites the complaint. “He had no right to rely upon some alleged statement by the Assistant Director that it was a ‘cold gun.’ Mr. Baldwin cannot hide behind the Assistant Director to attempt to excuse the fact that he did not check the gun himself.”

    Claims of negligence against Baldwin and El Dorado Pictures were also allowed to proceed. The judge found that they owed a “duty of care” to Mitchell and other crewmembers to make the filming of the movie reasonably safe. The defendants may have breached their duties by failing to properly supervise firearms used for filming, Whitaker concluded.

    In her suit, Mitchell alleged that the cart used for storing ammunition had been regularly left unattended throughout filming, that loaded firearms had been used by crewmembers for target practice in violation of safety protocols that were never implemented and that the producers of the movie should’ve hired an experienced armorer to manage the weapons instead of Hannah Gutierrez-Reed. She also said there were “serious safety concerns” related to the use of firearms and live ammunition, detailing numerous workers walking off the job in protest of safety concerns prior to the fatal shooting.

    A report from a New Mexico safety agency issued in April detailed two previous incidents in which firearms accidentally discharged on the set of Rust. The first misfire, which happened less than a week before the fatal shooting, occurred when props master Sarah Zachary inadvertently fired a blank round as she finished loading a 0.45 caliber revolver that was aimed at the ground. The second involved the stunt double for Baldwin, who said the gun “just went off.”

    The decision from Whitaker follows an order in September dismissing most claims against Rust Movie Productions, Thomasville Pictures, Ryan Smith and Langley Cheney, because they didn’t know Baldwin would actually shoot the gun that killed Hutchins.

    Claims against El Dorado for assault and intentional infliction of emotional distress met the same fate for the same reasons, according to a court filing.

    Gloria Allred, representing Mitchell, said that the court dismissed claims against El Dorado because “Alec Baldwin is the person who fired the gun, not El Dorado Productions, so [it] did not have specific intent.”
    The pdf of Mitchell v Baldwin is posted on THR
    Gene Ching
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  3. #18
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    Another lawsuit

    Alec Baldwin Sues ‘Rust’ Crew For Negligence; Actor Wants “To Clear His Name” After Fatal Set Shooting, Says Incident Cost Him Roles

    By Dominic Patten
    Senior Editor, Legal & TV Critic
    @DeadlineDominic

    November 11, 2022 6:09pm

    Alec Baldwin and the 'Rust' set in New Mexico
    Getty Images
    Just days before the Santa Fe District Attorney is expected to announced her intentions in the fatal shooting of Rust cinematographer Halyna Hutchins by Alec Baldwin last year, the actor Friday has slammed crew members of the indie Western with a negligence lawsuit.

    Filed on a day when Los Angeles Superior Court is closed for the Veterans Day holiday, the photo- and email-heavy cross-complaint for negligence and indemnification names Rust armorer Hannah Gutierrez Reed, first assistant director David Halls, property master Sarah Zachry, and weapons and rounds supplier Seth Kenney and his company as defendants.

    “This tragedy happened because live bullets were delivered to the set and loaded into the gun, Gutierrez-Reed failed to check the bullets or the gun carefully, Halls failed to check the gun carefully and yet announced the gun was safe before handing it to Baldwin, and Zachry failed to disclose that Gutierrez-Reed had been acting recklessly off set and was a safety risk to those around her,” says the cross complaint (read it here) from Baldwin’s Quinn Emanuel attorney Luke Nikas.

    Recently having settled a wrongful death suit with Hutchins’ husband and family and intending to get Rust back on track, Baldwin has long declared he never pulled the trigger on the 1880s period gun that he was pointing at Hutchins on October 21, 2021.

    In a move that risks backfiring on Baldwin, today’s filing makes a point of noting how the aftermath of the shooting has impacted his career.

    “Baldwin has also lost numerous job opportunities and associated income,” it says. “For example, he’s been fired from multiple jobs expressly because of the incident on Rust and has been passed over for other opportunities, which is a direct result of the negligence of Cross-Defendants Gutierrez-Reed, Halls, Kenney, PDQ, and Zachry.”

    Coming just over a week after Baldwin failed to convince a LASC judge to remove him from Rust script supervisor Mamie Mitchell’s own negligence lawsuit or see the matter dismissed, Friday’s filing also claims the Emmy winner has suffered personal consequences from the horrible October 2021 incident.

    “More than anyone else on that set, Baldwin has been wrongfully viewed as the perpetrator of this tragedy,” the actor’s lawyer writes of his client. “By these Cross-Claims, Baldwin seeks to clear his name and hold Cross-Defendants accountable for their misconduct.”


    (Photo by Sam Wasson/Getty Images)
    ‘There can be no doubt that others have suffered from Cross-Defendants’ negligence far more than Baldwin has,” the suit does go on to say of that day at the Bonanza Creek Ranch set, just outside Santa Fe, New Mexico. “Hutchins lost her life, and her young child lost his mother,” the jury trial cross-complaint states. “Producer Joel Souza was shot in the shoulder and has suffered physical and emotional pain. Though by no means comparable, Baldwin must live with the immense grief, and the resulting emotional, physical, and financial toll, caused by the fact that Cross-Defendants’ negligent conduct, assurances, and supervision put a loaded weapon in his hand and led him, Hutchins, and everyone else on set to believe that his directed use of the weapon was safe.”

    Reps for the cross-complaint defendants did not return request for comment from Deadline on today’s filing.

    Mitchell is not a defendant in the cross-complaint. However, Gloria Allred certainly had something to say for her client about Friday’s filing. “Baldwin’s cross complaint is a shameful attempt to shift the blame to others, just as he has done since he fired the fatal shot which killed Ms. Hutchins and injured our client, Mamie Mitchell,” Allred said. “He claims that everyone else was negligent and that everyone else is at fault. Mr. Baldwin appears to argue that he is the only one that is truly innocent.”

    “One last thing I have to say to you, Mr. Baldwin – take responsibility for your actions,” Allred went on to say. “I am not suggesting that others did not also bear some responsibility for what occurred. However, if you look in the mirror you will see the person that we believe bears the most responsibility for what happened on that tragic day on the set of Rust in New Mexico.”

    In one of several legal actions currently in the courts relating to the shooting, Mitchell first filed her lawsuit against Baldwin, Rust producers and crew members Gutierrez-Reed, Halls, Zachry and others on November 17, 2021. Mitchell was standing near Hutchins and Souza when the gun Baldwin was holding fired. On November 1, Judge Michael E. Whitaker refused Baldwin’s effort to exit the suit and also denied a motion from Baldwin and his El Dorado Pictures Inc to strike the script supervisor’s claim for punitive damages.

    Santa Fe DA Mary Carmack-Altwies received the final Santa Fe Sheriff’s Office report on the Rust shooting on October 27. “The District Attorney and her team of investigators and prosecutors will now begin a thorough review of the information and evidence to make a thoughtful, timely decision about whether to bring charges,” her office said at the time, weeks after seeking greater funding from the state for a possible prosecution on the matter.

    “As with all cases that the District Attorney handles, her focus will be on upholding the integrity of the process, enforcing the laws of the state of New Mexico, and pursuing justice.”
    I find this whole story tragic yet compelling.
    Gene Ching
    Publisher www.KungFuMagazine.com
    Author of Shaolin Trips
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  4. #19
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    Not okay

    Hilaria Baldwin Admits She and Husband Alec Are 'Not Okay' One Year After 'Rust' Shooting Tragedy
    "It was and is a tragedy that nobody could ever have imagined," Hilaria Baldwin said of the fatal Rust shooting incident to Extra

    By Tommy McArdle Published on December 2, 2022 05:45 PM



    A year after the fatal shooting on the set of Alec Baldwin's film Rust, his wife Hilaria Baldwin says she and her husband are still "not okay."

    In a preview of 38-year-old Hilaria's upcoming interview with Extra, shared with PEOPLE, the author and podcast host indicated that both she and Alec, 64, are still struggling emotionally more than one year after the incident that resulted in the death of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins.

    "We're not okay. We can't be okay. No one's okay," Hilaria tells Extra in a clip from the interview. "It was and is a tragedy that nobody could ever have imagined."

    Hutchins, 42, was shot and killed Oct. 21, 2021, after a prop gun held by Alec that turned out to contain live rounds discharged. Director Joel Souza was also wounded in the incident; Alec maintains that he did not pull the trigger.

    In October, one year after Hutchins' death, Alec posted a tribute to the cinematographer.

    While the Santa Fe County Sheriff's Office criminal investigation is still pending and no charges have been made, Alec and other Rust producers recently settled a wrongful death lawsuit filed by Hutchins' widower Matthew earlier this year. Along with the settlement, the team agreed to complete the movie with Matthew now on board as an executive producer.

    Matthew, who shares son Andros with Hutchins, said in a statement, "I have no interest in engaging in recriminations or attribution of blame (to the producers or Mr. Baldwin)."

    He added, "All of us believe Halyna's death was a terrible accident. I am grateful that the producers and the entertainment community have come together to pay tribute to Halyna's final work."


    Hilaria Baldwin and Alec Baldwin at the American Museum of Natural History's 2022 Museum Gala. HILARIA BALDWIN AND ALEC BALDWIN AT THE AMERICAN MUSEUM OF NATURAL HISTORY'S 2022 MUSEUM GALA


    COURTESY OF SANTA FE COUNTY SHERIFF'S OFFICE

    Sharing news of the settlement on Instagram himself earlier this month, Alec wrote, "We are pleased to announce today the settlement of the civil case filed on behalf of the family of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins. Throughout this difficult process, everyone has maintained the specific desire to do what is best for Halyna's son."

    "We are grateful to everyone who contributed to the resolution of this tragic and painful situation," he added.

    In an interview with ABC News' George Stephanopoulos in December, Alec said he "would go to any lengths to undo what happened."

    "I want to make sure that I don't come across like I'm the victim, because we have two victims here. All of what happened that day leading up to this event was precipitated on one idea, and that idea is that Halyna and I had something profound in common," he added, "that is we both assumed the gun was empty, other than those dummy rounds."

    Tune in to Extra Monday for the interview, check local listings for stations and time.
    How would you ever be okay after something like this?
    Gene Ching
    Publisher www.KungFuMagazine.com
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  5. #20
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    Halyna & Brandon

    Actor Brandon Lee was killed by a prop gun, years before the 'Rust' shooting death
    January 20, 20235:23 AM ET
    GIULIA HEYWARD


    Actor Brandon Lee died at age 28 while filming The Crow in 1993.
    Alamy Stock Photo
    Actor Alec Baldwin is facing criminal charges of involuntary manslaughter in the shooting death of Rust cinematographer Halyna Hutchins in 2021. The incident is reminiscent of another on-set tragedy: the accidental shooting of actor Brandon Lee during filming of The Crow nearly three decades earlier.

    Lee, who was the son of martial artist Bruce Lee, died after his co-star, actor Michael Massee, fired at him with a prop gun during filming on March 30, 1993, in Wilmington, North Carolina. Although the revolver was loaded with blanks, the gunpowder in the blank cartridge ignited, leading Massee to unknowingly fire a bullet fragment at Lee, who later died in surgery.

    While Massee did not face any criminal charges, Lee's mother did successfully sue filmmakers for an undisclosed amount.

    Decades later, a similar incident occurred when Baldwin fired a live round from a Colt .45-caliber pistol at Hutchins during filming for Rust. Baldwin, who maintains that he did not intend to fire at Hutchins, sued those involved in the handling and supplying of the prop gun and reached a settlement in a wrongful death lawsuit filed by Hutchins' husband, Matthew Hutchins.

    On Thursday, prosecutors in Santa Fe, N.M., said Baldwin and another member of the Rust crew would face criminal charges for their involvement in the cinematographer's death.

    Nancy Gertner, a trial lawyer, retired judge and senior lecturer at Harvard Law School, told NPR that filing criminal charges, in the deaths of both Lee and Hutchinson, is often up to the acting prosecutor's discretion. She called the decision to charge Baldwin with involuntary manslaughter both "unusual" and "difficult to prove."

    "No one intended for this to happen," Gertner said. "So these kinds of charges are reserved for only the most extreme kinds of negligence, the most gross negligence, the largest deviation from what ordinary standards would be."

    Gertner points to other members of the crew — including the film's armorer, who is also facing charges of involuntary manslaughter — and their handling and management of the gun before it came into Baldwin's possession.

    "There are people along the continuum here who had direct responsibility for that gun and failed in that responsibility," she said. "One way of thinking of that is, in one sense, Baldwin is the least culpable on that line."

    To prove Baldwin's culpability, Gertner said the prosecutors are theorizing that Baldwin held a greater responsibility in the death than originally thought. She also pointed to the roles that social media and "the unbelievable crush of publicity" might be playing in the prosecutors' decision.

    "In other words, was the Lee case going to be on every single night on television, and on Twitter and on every major outlet?" Gertner said. "Does that put pressure on prosecutors in ways that it never has before? And that could be a difference."

    Robert Weisberg, a criminal law professor at Stanford University, echoed the same sentiment that an involuntary manslaughter charge is often up to the prosecutor's discretion, calling the incident involving Baldwin "very factually messy."

    "I don't think we know enough yet about the forensics of the shooting, at least compared to what was settled in the Brandon Lee case," he said. "And some possible outcomes from further investigation or actual trial testimony, in the Baldwin case, might more clearly differentiate the cases."

    Weisberg pointed to labor issues surrounding the production company behind Rust. The Los Angeles Times reported that a half-dozen crew members reportedly walked off the set hours before the shooting incident, and others told the news outlet that gun safety protocols weren't being followed while filming.

    "A jury could infer, 'Well, on that basis, he should have thought twice, or three times, about the gun,'" Weisberg said. "Even if there hadn't been incidents on that set about that particular gun, but rather, you should have done an inference: 'We're not running the set very well. And I better really be careful here.'"

    The incident that led to Lee's death spurred the need for better protocols when using prop guns on set. Following her brother's death, martial artist Shannon Lee told Agence France-Presse in 2021 that mandatory gun safety training should be required for actors.

    "It shouldn't happen again," Lee told the news agency.

    Gertner also said that previous reports of equipment being irresponsibly handled on set could add to Baldwin's culpability.

    "So that too could have distinguished this case from the Lee case," she said. "If someone tells you that you speed all the time and you continue to speed, that makes you much more culpable."
    Rust-accidental-shooting-of-Halyna-Hutchins
    Question-about-Brandon-Lee
    Gene Ching
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