The indie Western star and producerâ€™s ill-considered inclusion of his interaction with now widower Matt Hutchins in an arbitration filing against his fellow Rust producers has now incurred the wrath of the Hutchinsâ€™ estate lawyer. â€œShamefulâ€ is what Brian Panish is calling Baldwinâ€™s legal non sequitur and disclosures of personal correspondence.
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Having filed a wrongful death suit against Baldwin, other Rust producers and crew members last month, Panish | Shea | Boyle | Ravipudi attorney has put The Cooler actor on a different kind of notice â€“ as you can see below:
Alec Baldwin once again is trying to avoid liability and accountability for his reckless actions before and on Oct 21st that resulted in the death of Halyna Hutchins, as demonstrated by todayâ€™s arbitration demand for indemnification from the Rust production company. Baldwinâ€™s disclosure of personal texts with Matt Hutchins is irrelevant to his demand for arbitration and fails to demonstrate anything other than Hutchinsâ€™ dignity in his engagement with Baldwin. It is shameful that Baldwin claims Hutchinsâ€™ actions in filing a wrongful death lawsuit derailed the completion of Rust. The only action that ended the filmâ€™s production was Baldwinâ€™s killing of Halyna Hutchins.
PREVIOUSLY, 9:01 AM: Less than a month after the family of slain Rust cinematographer Halyna Hutchins filed a wrongful death lawsuit, Alec Baldwin is seeking to protect himself against the snowballing legal actions and any responsibility for killing the crew member.
â€œThis is a rare instance when the system broke down, and someone should be held legally culpable for the tragic consequences,â€ bluntly says a filing Friday by the Rust star and producerâ€™s lawyer Luke Nikas against lead producer Ryan Smith and Rust Move Productions LLC. â€œThat person is not Alec Baldwin.â€
In todayâ€™s arbitration seeking move against his fellow producers on the indie western (read it here), Baldwin seeks to invoke a provision in his contract that could indemnify him in all current and future lawsuits, as well as see his legal bills paid. Almost burying the lede, the filing also reveals an effort by Baldwin to resume filming on Rust and finish the $7 million budgeted movie to in part contribute to a settlement for the Hutchins family.
â€œAt this point, two things are clear: someone is culpable for chambering the live round that led to this horrific tragedy, and it is someone other than Baldwin. Baldwin is an actor,â€ reads the JAMS paperwork from Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan, LLPâ€™s Nikas. â€œHe didnâ€™t announce that the gun was â€œcoldâ€ when it really contained a live round; he didnâ€™t load the gun; he didnâ€™t check the bullets in the gun; he didnâ€™t purchase the bullets; he didnâ€™t make the bullets and represent that they were dummies; he wasnâ€™t in charge of firearm safety on the set; he didnâ€™t hire the people who supplied the bullets or checked the gun; and he played no role in managing the movieâ€™s props. Each of those jobs was performed by someone else.â€
As the investigation by the Santa Fe Sheriffâ€™s office into what went horribly wrong on the Rust set at the Bonanza Creek Ranch last year continues, Baldwin and fellow producers and crew members have been hit with several lawsuits, most damningly by the estates of dead DP Hutchins.
Apparently reluctant to stop talking about the incident to the media and anyone else who will listen, Baldwin unveiled todayâ€™s filing a bit last week. On March 5, the Emmy winner told the Boulder International Film Festival that â€œdeep-pocket litigantsâ€ are wrongfully being sued, rather than those who he believes were potentially negligent in the shooting that killed Hutchins and wounded Rust director Joel Souza last October.
In that vein, todayâ€™s filing goes on to read: â€œAs he had done throughout his career, Baldwin trusted the other professionals on the set to do their jobs.â€
â€œUntil October 21, Baldwin had never been involved in a breach of safety on the set of any movie or film, and he has safely handled firearms and other weapons without incident in at least a dozen films and television projects, including The Hunt For Red October, Miami Blues, The Getaway, The Shadow, Heavenâ€™s Prisoners, The Juror, The Edge, Thick as Thieves, and Mission Impossible: Fallout,â€ continues the filing.
â€œBaldwin has also found himself on set with a gun pointed at him. He has therefore been trained for decades about gun safety on movie sets, and he received similar training from (armorer Hannah Gutierrez) Reed on the set of Rust. He followed the training when this tragedy occurred on October 21,â€ says the Arbitration Demand against Rust Movie Productions LLC and Ryan Smith.
Hutchins was killed by a live bullet in a prop gun discharged by Baldwin on Oct. 21, 2021 on the set of Rust at the Bonanza Creek Ranch near Sante Fe, New Mexico. â€œI didnâ€™t pull the trigger,â€ Baldwin told ABC Newsâ€™ George Stephanopoulos in a Dec. 2 interview. The Aviator and The Marrying Man actor also told Stephanopoulos, â€œI have been told by people who are in the know, in terms of even inside the state, that itâ€™s highly unlikely that I would be charged with anything criminally.â€
â€œThe idea that the person holding the gun and causing it to discharge is not responsible is absurd to me,â€ Matt Hutchins, Halynaâ€™s husband told Todayâ€˜s Hoda Kotb in an interview from February 24. â€œWatching him I just felt so angry,â€ the now widower went on to say to Kotb. â€œI was just so angry to see him talk about her death so publicly in such a detailed way and then to not accept any responsibility after having just described killing her.â€
Remarkably, packing the filing full of text messages and more, Baldwin uses todayâ€™s paperwork to slag Matt Hutchins with implications of the LA lawyer being disingenuous and looking for a big payout. In the aftermath of the tragedy, the latest filing says â€œbefore Hutchinsâ€™s appearance on the Today show, his interactions with Baldwin had only been polite, collaborative, and, at times, even warmâ€
Thatâ€™s not entirely true.
Back on February 15, soon after the Hutchins estate filed their wrongful death suit, Baldwin and other Rust producers put out a statement exclaiming that â€œany claim that Alec was reckless is entirely false.â€
In fact, Baldwin claims in todayâ€™s filing that in early January 2022, over a month before the wrongful death suit was filed, he and Hutchins were speaking directly about a financial agreement for the family. â€œDuring the first phone call, Hutchins told Baldwin that the proposed settlement sounded â€˜interesting,’â€ alleges Fridayâ€™s document. â€œHe did not accept or reject the settlement, but told Baldwin that he would need to think it over after reviewing additional details. On the second phone call, Baldwin recalls, Hutchins sounded less open-minded.â€
Now, post wrongful death suit filing and that Today sit-down, Baldwin is clearly shocked his charm offense didnâ€™t work. He says via his lawyers toay that â€œplans to complete Rust and to channel its proceeds into a fund for Hutchinsâ€™s\ and his sonâ€™s benefit have unfortunately broken down as a result of the lawsuit and these public statements.â€
So, as the Santa Fe police and the local D.A. await the completion of the copsâ€™ probe, it seems the 30 Rock star wants to chart his own legal path. Reps for the other Rust producers did not respond to request for comment from Deadline.
The New York Times was the first to report on Baldwinâ€™s JAMS arbitration filing this morning.
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