Halyna Hutchins' Estate Files Wrongful Death Lawsuit Against Alec Baldwin and 'Rust' Production

The lawsuit comes just nearly a month after the estate filed a petition in court about appointing a lawyer for the potential lawsuit.

The estate of Halyna Hutchins has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Alec Baldwin and the Rust production over the fatal October shooting on the set of the film in which Baldwin starred and produced. 

Lawyers for the Hutchins estate made the announcement Tuesday at a news conference in Los Angeles, where attorney Brian Panish said Baldwin and others are named defendants "responsible for the safety on the set and whose reckless behavior in cost cutting led to the senseless and tragic death of Halyna Hutchins.”

Lawyers for Baldwin and the Rust production released a statement to ET, saying "Everyone’s hearts and thoughts remain with Halyna’s family as they continue to process this unspeakable tragedy. We continue to cooperate with the authorities to determine how live ammunition arrived on the 'Rust' set in the first place. Any claim that Alec was reckless is entirely false. He, Halyna and the rest of the crew relied on the statement by the two professionals responsible for checking the gun that it was a 'cold gun' – meaning there is no possibility of a discharge, blank or otherwise."

"This protocol has worked on thousands of films, with millions of discharges, as there has never before been an incident on a set where an actual bullet harmed anyone," the statement continued. "Actors should be able to rely on armorers and prop department professionals, as well as assistant directors, rather than deciding on their own when a gun is safe to use.”

In legal documents, obtained by ET, the estate says Hutchins "deserved to live" and claims that the "defendants had the power to prevent her death if they had only held sacrosanct their duty to protect the safety of every individual on a set where firearms were present instead of cutting corners on safety procedures where human lives were at stake, rushing to stay on schedule and ignoring numerous complaints of safety violations."

Some of the cost-cutting measures the estate claims Baldwin and production undertook included "hiring inexperienced and unqualified armorers or weapons masters, requiring the film’s armorer to split time as assistant props master, establishing and aggressively adhering to unreasonably rushed production schedules, and hiring unqualified and inexperienced crew and staff that were responsible for safety during the production."

The lawsuit also claimed "guns on the Rust Production had been discharged in an unsafe manner while loaded with ammunition" prior to the fatal Oct. 21 shooting.

Hutchins' estate claims that because "Baldwin and the others involved in the Rust Production did not follow industry protocols and basic gun safety rules, a live round containing a .45 caliber bullet was in the revolver held by Defendant Baldwin at the time of the shooting, ready to be fired, and Defendant Baldwin caused that bullet to be discharged directly at Ms. Hutchins."

Panish said at the news conference that his team undertook an investigation, and interviewed witnesses that were at the scene and the day before in an effort to set the stage as to what led to Hutchins' death. Panish later showed an animated video that re-enacted what the lawyers alleged happened on the day Hutchins was fatally shot.

"You can see the recreation in the video based on the witnesses statements, the scene, the evidence and the emails and such we were able to attend," Panish said. "And I think the video explains why Mr. Baldwin and others were responsible, and are responsible for safety on the job site, and why their reckless conduct and cost-cutting measures led to the death of Halyna Hutchins.”

Lawyers for the estate allege "Mr. Baldwin and the Rust production disregarded at least 15 industry standards." When asked what he thinks is the most damming evidence in this case, Panish said, "It's all a culmination of al the evidence together; the totality of it is so overwhelming."

The lawsuit comes nearly a month after the estate filed a petition in the First Judicial District Court in Santa Fe, New Mexico, requesting the appointment of Kristina Martinez as the estate's lawyer for the possible lawsuit under the New Mexico Wrongful Death Act.

In that petition, obtained by ET, the estate makes note that the petition to explore the possible wrongful death lawsuit "is supported by Halyna's husband, Matthew Hutchins, and their minor son, Andros Hutchins." Furthermore, "any proceeds from a wrongful death case will be distributed to the personal representative's fiduciary duty in accordance with the Wrongful Death Act."

The investigation surrounding Hutchins' death is still ongoing, as Baldwin not long ago handed over his cell phone to authorities as part of the investigation in the fatal shooting on his film. In court documents, authorities said they wanted to seize Baldwin's phone along with his emails, social media accounts, deleted content, text messages, internet history, access to cloud drives, contacts, phone numbers, addresses, call logs and more.

Hutchins died in October after a prop gun was discharged on the film's set. Baldwin was holding the gun at the time, and he has since publicly stated that he did not pull the trigger. The film's director, Joel Souza, was also wounded in the shooting.

The wrongful death lawsuit is the latest case brought forward since the fatal shooting. 

Back in November, the film's chief electrician, Serge Svetnoy, sued Baldwin -- as well as armorer Hannah Gutierrez-Reed and assistant director David Halls -- claiming the defendants' alleged negligence caused him severe emotional distress in the aftermath of the incident.

Svetnoy also went on to claim the bullet that struck both Hutchins and Souza nearly struck him too. He also alleged he's the one who tried to comfort Hutchins and keep her conscious after she was hit.

Gutierrez-Reed also filed a lawsuit against the man who supplied the ammunition to the crew, claiming he mixed live and dummy rounds, which Reed alleged subsequently led to Hutchins' death. 

Reed claimed, in legal documents, Seth Kenney "created a dangerous condition on the movie set, unbeknownst to Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, which caused a foreseeable risk of injury to numerous people."