Judge accepts ‘Rust’ producers’ settlement with murdered cinematographer’s family

“rust” cinematographer Halyna Hutchins, left, with her husband Matthew Hutchins and their son Andros Hutchins.  Survivors of her 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. Survivors of her 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 between the family of murdered cinematographer Halyna Hutchins and the producers of the troubled Western “Rust,” including Alec Baldwin.

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

The family blamed cost-cutting measures, including hiring inexperienced crew members and disregarding safety concerns previously expressed by film crew operators who ended up abandoning the job.

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

Financial details were not disclosed.

The settlement was structured, in part, to compensate Hutchins’ son, who was 9 when his mother died. Thus, information about the process was kept confidential. The court appointed a guardian ad litem to act as the boy’s legal advocate. The tutor submitted a confidential report.

As part of the deal, Hutchins’ widower Matthew became executive producer on the Western, which recently resumed production in Montana.

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

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

The deal’s approval ends part of the fallout from the “Rust” tragedy, which shook the industry and raised new questions about safety on film sets.

In a statement last fall, Matthew Hutchins said, “We all believe that 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 final work.”

His statement complicated the job of the New Mexico district attorney, who at the time was beginning to bring criminal proceedings against Baldwin and others involved in the tragic accident. Baldwin in late January was charged with two counts of involuntary manslaughter, but much of the criminal case has since collapsed.

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

Baldwin has long maintained that he didn’t pull the trigger when Hutchins, 42, was shot during a rehearsal at a sprawling ranch outside Santa Fe. Baldwin was practicing a cross maneuver with his vintage replica gun 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 settled a plea deal with the film’s assistant director, David Halls, who turned the gun over to Baldwin, declaring it “cold,” meaning it contained no ammunition. In March, Halls pleaded no contest to a misdemeanor charge of negligent use of a deadly weapon and received a six-month suspended sentence.

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

This story originally appeared in the Los Angeles Times.

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