One year after fatally shooting Rust cinematographer Halyna Hutchins and injuring director Joel Souza, disgraced Hollywood actor Alec Baldwin has filed a lawsuit against four members of the crew in a desperate effort to clear his name.
Filed on Veterans Day in the Superior Court in Los Angeles, the cross-complaint accuses four of the defendants in Rust script supervisor Mamie Mitchell’s previously filed lawsuit against Baldwin of negliegence and indemnification.
The lawsuit also demands financial restitution from each individual – Rust armourer Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, assistant director David Halls, Seth Kenney along his prop-supplying company PDQ Arm & Prop, LLC, and props manager Sarah Zachry – for any potential damages that may arise out of Mitchell’s lawsuit.
Mitchell’s suit – filed in November of last year, just a month after the incident — alleges that the actor “intentionally, without just cause or excuse, cocked and fired the loaded gun even though the upcoming scene to be filmed did not call for the cocking and firing of the firearm.”
Also serving as a witness to the event, as she was standing right behind Hutchins when the gun went off, Mitchell accused Baldwin’s actions of constituting “assault, intentional infliction of emotional distress, and deliberate infliction of harm.”
Baldwin’s cross-complaint claims that Mitchell approached the actor right after the on-set shooting and offered some words of comfort, saying, “You realize you’re not responsible for any of what happened in there, don’t you?”, before eventually going on to file her suit.
As part of the cross-complaint’s second and third causes of action, Baldwin claims that he is also entitled to both equitable indemnification and equitable contribution “from Cross-Defendants for his damages, including any damages arising out of Plaintiff Mitchell’s claims in this lawsuit.”
“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,” reads the document.
Further, Baldwin’s suit shifts blame for the tragedy from the actor to ammunition suppliers Seth Kenney and PDQ, armourer Gutierrez-Reed, safety officer on set and assistant director David Halls, and props manager Sarah Zachry, claiming that the actor “did not know and had no reason to know any of these facts”
“More than anyone else on that set, Baldwin has been wrongfully viewed as the perpetrator of this tragedy,” the suit alleges. “By these Cross-Claims, Baldwin seeks to clear his name and hold Cross-Defendants accountable for their misconduct.”
Baldwin’s cross-complaint does acknowledge, however, that “there can be no doubt that others have suffered from Cross-Defendants’ negligence far more than Baldwin has.”
“Hutchins lost her life, and her young child lost his mother,” adds Baldwin’s legal team. “Producer Joel Souza was shot in the shoulder and has suffered physical and emotional pain.”
While Mitchell has not yet made any comments regarding the actor’s cross-complaint suit, her lawyer, noted feminist Gloria Allred, responded to Baldwin’s legal suit by describing it as “a shameful attempt to shift the blame to others, just as he has done since he fired the fatal shot which killed Ms. Hutchins.”
“[Baldwin] claims that everyone else was negligent and that everyone else is at fault,” said Allred via statement issued on November 11th. “Mr. Baldwin appears to argue that he is the only one that is truly innocent.”
“It was [Baldwin] that failed to make sure that the gun did not contain live ammunition in violation of industry protocols and common sense,” Allred concluded. [He] cannot escape [his] responsibility for this terrible tragedy by pointing [the] finger at everyone else.”
Rust gaffer Serge Svetnoy filed the first of many lawsuits related to the incident in November 2021, accusing the incident of being “caused by the negligent acts and omission” of Baldwin, assistant director David Halls, and Gutierrez-Reed, as well as several members of the film’s production team and “their agents, principals, and employers.”
In turn, armourer Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, named as a defendant in Baldwin’s recent cross-complaint, filed a lawsuit against ammo supplier Seth Kenney and PDQ Am & Prop, LLC, placing the blame on the actor for allegedly failing to attend cross draw training.
In February of this year, the family of Halyna Hutchins filed a legal complaint against Baldwin and Rust’s other producers on the grounds that the actor “and the other Defendants in this case failed to perform industry standard safety checks and follow basic gun safety rules while using real guns to produce the movie Rust, with fatal consequences.”
However, this lawsuit was dismissed in early October when the involved parties reached a settlement. Matthew Hutchins, husband of the slain cinematographer, issued a statement declaring that he will now be taking on the role of producer for the film.
“We have reached a settlement, subject to court approval, for our wrongful death case against the producers of Rust, including Alec Baldwin and Rust Movie Productions, LLC,” declared Matthew at the time.
“As part of that settlement, our case will be dismissed,” he explained, before refevealing that “The filming of Rust, which I will now executive produce, will resume with all the original principal players on board in January 2023.”
“I have no interest in engaging in recriminations or attribution of blame (to the producers or Mr. Baldwin),” he concluded. “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.”