Alec Baldwin files arbitration claim against Rust producers

Los Angeles, California – Alec Baldwin has filed an arbitration claim against the producers of the movie Rust in a bid to shield himself from liability and cover his legal fees after the death of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins on the set of the movie last year.

Alec Baldwin (l.) fatally shot cinematographer Halyna Hutchins in an on-set accident in October.
Alec Baldwin (l.) fatally shot cinematographer Halyna Hutchins in an on-set accident in October.  © Collage: IMAGO / ZUMA Wire & Screenshot/Facebook/Halyna Hutchins

Baldwin claims he was not responsible for the death of Hutchins, whom he shot during rehearsals for the movie, and sought indemnification under his producers agreement, according to the filing with JAMS arbitration system Friday and reviewed by the LA Times.

He also claimed that he was involved only in creative decisions, was not in charge of firearm safety or hiring.

In the filing, Baldwin detailed that he attempted to reach a settlement with Hutchins.

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He took this lead on behalf of the Rust producers, he said, to compensate Matthew Hutchins, Halyna’s husband, and her son. The actor also said that he had reached out to the cast and crew to get them to try to finish Rust in a bid to honor the cinematographers memory.

A spokesperson for the Rust producers had no immediate comment. The filing was first reported by the New York Times.

Baldwin has received several lawsuits

Baldwin has received several lawsuits from Hutchins' family following the shooting incident.
Baldwin has received several lawsuits from Hutchins' family following the shooting incident.  © IMAGO / MediaPunch

The actor’s move to seek remedies from the other producers of the movie comes after Baldwin received several lawsuits from the Hutchins family and others in the production with claims including negligence on behalf of the producers and the hiring of inexperienced crew.

Baldwin has been outspoken about his belief that he is not responsible for the death of the 42-year-old rising star cinematographer, including in an interview on ABC.

"This is a rare instance when the system broke down, and someone should be held legally culpable for the tragic consequences. That person is not Alec Baldwin," according to the filing. "October 21 was also the worst day in Alec Baldwin’s life. That day has and will continue to haunt Baldwin."

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Previously Aaron Dyer, Los Angeles-based attorney for Baldwin and other producers of Rust, said in a statement said they continued to cooperate with the authorities to determine how live ammunition arrived on the Rust set.

The filing details Baldwin’s role in the movie, including that in small-budget films like Rust he does not have authority to choose crew or direct non-creative aspects of the production such as hiring.

Hutchins family places much of the blame on Baldwin

Hutchins family has accused Baldwin and the other Rust movie producers of sacrificing crew safety.
Hutchins family has accused Baldwin and the other Rust movie producers of sacrificing crew safety.  © IMAGO / ZUMA Wire

Baldwin also requested gun training by the armorer before filming started, according to the filing.

The day after he arrived on set last October he received 90 minutes of training from the armorer Hannah Gutierrez Reed.

Reed had also offered "cross-draw" training, which the actor said in his filing Friday was not focused on gun safety but rather the motion of pulling the gun from the holster. He said he did not need this training.

That refusal came up in a wrongful death lawsuit last month from the Hutchins family, who placed much of the blame on Baldwin. Their claim stated the actor refused training in the "cross-draw" maneuver that he was practicing that day — just four feet from Hutchins and other crew members.

The Hutchins suit filed in New Mexico alleged that Baldwin and other producers of the low-budget film sacrificed crew members’ safety by hiring inexperienced crew and disregarding safety concerns expressed earlier by camera crew operators. Baldwin in his arbitration claim said he wasn’t made aware of safety issues.

He reiterated that at the time of the fatal scene, he was handed the gun by assistant director Dave Halls and that Halls had said the gun was "cold," which Baldwin said was a widely accepted term to indicate there was no real or blank ammunition in the gun.

Hutchins directed Baldwin to hold the gun so it was pointed toward her and that she had wanted him to cock the gun, according to the actor’s filing.

Baldwin said he pulled back the hammer of the gun but not enough to cock the gun, and when he let go, the gun went off.

Baldwin claims he is being "villainized"

Charges have yet to be filed in an ongoing criminal investigation focused on the actions of the Rust armorer.
Charges have yet to be filed in an ongoing criminal investigation focused on the actions of the Rust armorer.  © IMAGO / ZUMA Wire

Baldwin said his total compensation for his appearance and producing was $250,000, but he gave back $100,000 as an investment in the movie.

Baldwin said he was involved in talks about creative matters such as artwork for posters as well as working with Director Joel Souza on casting. Souza was also hit in the shooting by the same bullet that killed Hutchins but survived his injuries.

In his claim against Rust Movie Productions and producer Ryan Smith, Baldwin said accidental killers report symptoms associated with post traumatic stress disorder and that society does not help these individuals.

"Instead, we often pile on to the grief they are experiencing and villainize them as murderers, without putting ourselves in their shoes or considering who is truly culpable for the tragedy."

Charges have yet to be filed in the ongoing criminal investigation into the incident by the Santa Fe County Sheriff’s Office that has focused on the actions of the armorer Hannah Gutierrez Reed, assistant director Dave Halls, and Baldwin.

According to law enforcement documents, during a rehearsal Halls gave the actor a Colt .45 pistol, pronouncing it "cold," to indicate there was no ammunition inside.

However, the gun contained dummy rounds and at least one lead bullet, the source of which is still a subject of investigation.

Cover photo: IMAGO / MediaPunch

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