Settlement reached in lawsuit over Alec Baldwin shooting incident

Family of Halyna Hutchins, killed on the set of ‘Rust’ last year, says production of the film will resume in January.

Actor Alec Baldwin
Actor and producer Alec Baldwin has denied responsibility for the death of Halyna Hutchins [File: Seth Wenig/AP Photo]

The family of Halyna Hutchins, the cinematographer shot and killed by Alec Baldwin on the set of the film, Rust, have reached a settlement in a lawsuit against the actor and the movie’s producers.

Hutchins was killed and director Joel Souza was injured when Baldwin shot a prop gun on set in Bonanza Creek Ranch, New Mexico in October 2021. Family members called the incident a “terrible accident” in a statement Wednesday, adding that production of the film will go forward early next year.

“We have reached a settlement, subject to court approval, for our wrongful death case against the producers of, Rust, including Alec Baldwin,” Matthew Hutchins, widow of the cinematographer Halyna Hutchins, said in a statement on Wednesday.

“As part of that settlement, our case will be dismissed. The filming of Rust, which I will now executive produce, will resume with all the original principal players on board, in January 2023.”

The settlement could bring an end to the unusual tragedy that shook the US entertainment industry and raised questions about the safety of working conditions on the set of the film. The circumstances that led to the accident are still disputed.

The Santa Fe District Attorney’s office has said that Baldwin could face potential criminal charges, and stated on Wednesday that the settlement would not impact their decision.

Baldwin had been filming a scene in a small church, and was pointing a prop gun at Hutchins when it discharged, killing her and injuring Souza. Baldwin has denied responsibility and said that he did not pull the trigger.

“I feel someone is responsible for what happened, but I know it isn’t me,” Baldwin said in an interview in December 2021.

The family’s February lawsuit stated that Baldwin bore “a significant portion of liability” for the shooting, and said that Baldwin should have checked the gun to make sure it did not have live rounds.

A forensic report by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the US domestic intelligence agency, concluded that the weapon could not have been fired unless the trigger was pulled.

Family members have now said in their statement that they were not interested in “recriminations or attribution of blame”.

“All of us believe Halyna’s death was a terrible accident,” said Matthew Hutchins. “I am grateful that the producers and the entertainment community have come together to pay tribute to Halyna’s final work.”

New Mexico’s Occupational Health and Safety Bureau levied the maximum fine against Rust Movie Productions in April and painted a damning picture of safety failures, including claims that production managers took little to no action to address two misfires of blank ammunition on the set prior to the shooting that killed Hutchins.

Rust Movie Productions has disputed the $137,000 fine, stating that misfires did not violate safety protocols and that “appropriate corrective actions were taken,” including briefings of cast and crew.

An eight-day hearing over the penalty is scheduled for April 2023, and it is not yet clear whether the film can be completed until the dispute is resolved.

Baldwin said in a statement to Deadline, which first reported the settlement, “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.”

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies