Again, Alec Baldwin and Rust the producers are being sued by members of the indie western’s crew for the deadly 2021 on-set shooting of cinematographer Haylna Hutchins.
Ross Addiego, Doran Curtin and Reese Price sued Baldwin and the production for negligence. The trio, who were there when the 1880s prop gun Baldwin was holding exploded during rehearsal and killed Hutchins, also claim Baldwin pulled the trigger – something the actor, who has been charged with two counts of manslaughter, has long denied.
“On October 21, 2021, the accused Alexander R Baldwin Ill fired a Colt 45 revolver at the crew on the set of the film Rust, killing the film’s cinematographer – Halyna Hutchins – and injuring Ross Addiego, Doran Curtin and Reese Price (“Plaintiffs”),” reads the jury-finding complaint (read it here) filed in the increasingly busy courts of New Mexico. “These injuries were caused by defendants’ failure to follow industry safety rules. Defendants cut corners; ignored reports of multiple unscripted firearm discharges; and persisted, pressed and in understaffed, to end the film.
The Virgil Law Firm of Albuquerque filing also claims that “on his third draw, Defendant Baldwin cocked the hammer of the revolver with the trigger depressed and fired it toward the crew hitting Hutchins and injuring the plaintiffs “.
To that end, the three plaintiffs reveal exactly where they were in Santa Fe’s Bonanza Creek Ranch church when Hutchins was shot:
The sound of the electric shock inside the small church was deafening, causing blast injuries to the claimants.
Plaintiff Price saw the muzzle flash of the revolver in the hand of defendant Baldwin. He felt the physical force of gunfire in the small space. His ears started ringing. It felt like everything was moving in slow motion. He saw Souza screaming and crawling away from the accused Baldwin. Desperate and frightened, the crew members began to pull Claimant Price by the shirt and out of the church. Plaintiff Price realized that the gun had been fired at him and his colleagues.
Plaintiff Addiego witnessed the same flash. He felt the same disorienting sound, force and physical trauma of the gunshot. He heard Souza’s muffled cries and began to navigate the chaos. He realized he had just seen the Defendant Baldwin draw the revolver at him and the group he was standing in. Hutchins and Souza fell to the ground. While examining Souza for injuries, Plaintiff Addiego saw a hole in the front of Souza’s sweatshirt. Aided by another crew member and the set doctor, Claimant Addiego removed Souza’s shirt and turned him inside out. Souza’s shoulder blade was shattered and a bullet lodged just under his skin. Plaintiff Addiego pressured Souza’s injury until emergency medical professionals arrived.
Plaintiff Curtin felt the same sound, force and physical trauma from the gunshot. She watched Hutchins fall to the ground right in front of her. With Hutchins at his feet, other crew members asked Claimant Curtin to remove Hutchins’ headset. She bent down and removed the equipment from Hutchins head. She watched in shock as Hutchins grabbed her abdomen. Complainant Curtin put her hands on Hutchins’ stomach, trying to find the source of Hutchins’ pain and figure out what was going on. As the chaos continued, claimant Curtin was led out of the church. Once outside, she collapsed from the effects of the explosion and the shock of the gunfight.
Just weeks after Hutchins’ death, Baldwin insisted during an ABC interview with George Stephanopoulos that he “didn’t pull the trigger” on the gun that killed the director of the photography. Although no one yet knows how live ammunition got to the Rust together, this repeated assertion by Baldwin about not pulling the trigger was countered by the FBI in its analysis of the incident and the gun itself, detailed in a 551-page report made public by the Santa Fe Sheriff’s Office in November 2022. In terms echoed in this latest lawsuit and others, the local prosecutor also alleged that Baldwin missed or neglected vital firearms and safety training on Rust.
“The plaintiffs are entitled to damages for their injuries caused by the negligent and reckless conduct of the defendants,” the sometimes brisk document continues. Although no specific sum of money is mentioned in the complaint, the claim for “compensatory and punitive damages, jointly and severally”, plus loss of “enjoyment of life” and loss of “the value of lost income and the present value of earning capacity”. will likely amount to a substantial amount if the verdict is in favor of the plaintiffs.
The latest lawsuit comes amid several other civil lawsuits, a criminal case and a few Rust costumes in which Baldwin is the plaintiff. After pleading not guilty in the criminal case on Feb. 23, Baldwin scored a big victory last week when a gun improvement law that carried a mandatory five-year sentence was dropped by the Santa Fe DA after the cries of unconstitutionality of the defense teams.
The actor’s attorneys had no comment Monday when contacted by Deadline about the latest lawsuit.
As potentially resurrected Rust Aims for spring start in Montana with Baldwin back in lead gunslinger role and Joel Souza directing, new suit tears producers up for hiring ‘inexperienced and unqualified’ Hannah Gutierrez-Reed as first Rust gunsmith and the double duty she did for the prop department to save money. Addiego, Curtin and Price also condemn the employment of now-retired David Halls as first assistant director “despite documented complaints from past productions about Halls’ inability to maintain safe sets”.
Like Baldwin, Reed was charged on January 31 with two counts of manslaughter, which carries a maximum sentence of 18 months and fines if convicted. Set to appear on the prosecutor’s witness list along with widower Matthew Hutchins, various crew members and police, Halls reached a plea deal with prosecutor Mary Carmack-Altwies late last year.
Unlike Addiego, a member of the film crew, and Curtin, a member of the costume department, Rust Key Grip Price is also on the prosecutor’s witness list at this time.
As Baldwin and her New York-based legal team push to have Special Prosecutor Andrea Reeb removed from the case because of her dual role as an elected GOP lawmaker in New Mexico, a preliminary hearing in the Rust the criminal case is not expected for at least three months. This delay in a case full of delays is largely due to the schedules of all prosecutors, defense attorneys and defendants Baldwin and Reed.
All this means, if Rust really goes back into production, the movie could be finished a long time before the defendants go to trial in the criminal case, or even in this latest civil case.