Judge approves ‘Rust’ producers’ settlement with family of slain cinematographer

“Rust” cinematographer Halyna Hutchins, left, with her husband Matthew Hutchins and their son, Andros Hutchins.  His survivors had filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Alec Baldwin and other

“Rust” cinematographer Halyna Hutchins, left, with her husband Matthew Hutchins and their son, Andros Hutchins. His survivors had filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Alec Baldwin and other “Rust” producers. (From the Hutchins family)

A New Mexico judge on Thursday approved a settlement agreement between the family of late cinematographer Halyna Hutchins and the producers of the troubled western “Rust,” including Alec Baldwin.

Members of Hutchins’ immediate family — her husband, Matthew Hutchins, and son, Andros Hutchins — filed a wrongful death lawsuit last year, alleging Baldwin and other producers acted recklessly, contributing to her being shot and killed in October 2021 on the “Rust” set near Santa Fe, New Mexico

The family blamed cost-cutting measures, including hiring inexperienced crew members, and ignoring safety concerns expressed earlier by film crew operators who eventually walked off the job.

Last fall, the two sides reached an agreement to resolve the civil lawsuit, pending court approval.

Financial details were not made public.

The settlement was structured, in part, to compensate Hutchins’ son, who was 9 when his mother died. Thus, information on the procedure remained confidential. The court appointed a guardian ad litem to serve as the boy’s legal defender. The tutor filed a report under seal.

As part of the settlement agreement, Hutchins’ widower, Matthew, became executive producer of the western film, which recently resumed production in Montana.

The order issued by the judge stated that a portion of the settlement would be reserved for Hutchins’ son. His share of the settlement will be distributed to him when he turns 18 and 22, the judge’s order said.

“The settlement … is fair, appropriate, and in the best interests of Andros Hutchins, a minor and protected person,” District Court Judge Bryan Biedscheid wrote in his order.

The settlement’s approval closes a strand of the fallout from the “Rust” tragedy, which rocked the industry and raised new questions about film set safety.

In a statement last fall, Matthew Hutchins said: “We all believe Halyna’s death was a terrible accident. I am grateful that the producers and entertainment community have come together to pay tribute to Halyna’s latest work. “

His statement complicated the work of the New Mexico prosecutor, who at the time was beginning to mount a criminal case against Baldwin and others involved in the tragic crash. In late January, Baldwin was charged with two counts of manslaughter, but much of the criminal case has since collapsed.

Special prosecutors who had replaced the district attorney decided in late April to drop criminal charges against Baldwin. The development came after prosecutors said they had received new information in the case – that Baldwin’s prop gun had been modified before it was delivered to the low-budget western in October 2021.

Baldwin has long maintained he didn’t pull the trigger when Hutchins, 42, was shot during rehearsal at a sprawling ranch outside Santa Fe. Baldwin was practicing a cross-draw maneuver with his replica vintage pistol when it fired, hitting Hutchins in the chest at close range.

The film’s director, Joel Souza, was also injured but recovered.

Earlier this year, prosecutors reached a plea deal with the film’s assistant director, David Halls, who had given the gun to Baldwin, declaring it ‘cold’, meaning it contained no ammunition. . In March, Halls did not contest a misdemeanor charge of careless use of a deadly weapon and received a six-month suspended prison sentence.

The gunsmith, Hannah Gutierrez Reed, still faces two counts of manslaughter.

This story originally appeared in the Los Angeles Times.

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