Alec Baldwin, ‘Rust’ Producers, Armorer & First AD Sued For “General Negligence” By Film’s Gaffer Over Fatal Shooting

As New Mexico police continue their investigation into the October 21 fatal shooting of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins by Alec Baldwin, on the set of Rust, the first in what is expected to many lawsuits has been filed.

Seeking a wide range of unspecified damages, Rust gaffer Serge Svetnoy has filed a complaint of general negligence against the production, the financiers, star Alec Baldwin, armorer Hannah Gutierrez Reed, first Assistant Director David Halls and many more.

“This incident was caused by the negligent acts and omossion of Defendants, and each of them, as well as their agents, principals, and employers,” the complaint states. “Simply put, there was no reason for a live bullet to be placed in that .45 Colt revolver to be present anywhere on the Rust set, and the presence of a bullet in a revolver posed a lethal threat to everyone in its vicinity,” it continues in blunt terms (read it here).

Handed what he was told was a “cold gun” by First AD Halls during a “quick draw” rehearsal at the Bonanza Creek Ranch near Santa Fe last month, Baldwin let off what police now call “live rounds” – killing Hutchins and injuring director Joel Souza.
The complaint goes on to say:

Defendants, and each of them, among other acts of negligence, failed to implement and maintain industry standards for custody and control over firearms used on the Rust Set, allowed real bullets to be present on the Rust set, failed to properly inspect the subject firearm for safety before passing it along the chain of custody to an actor, allowed a firearm to be loaded with or otherwise contain a live bullet, failed to observe basic gun safety practices on the Rust set, allowed a revolver loaded with live ammunition to be pointed at living persons on the Rust set, failed to hire a competent and experienced armorer for Rust, failed to hire an adequate support crew for the production’s armorer, and failed to implement appropriate safety standards and measures on the Rust movie production.

Defendants, and each of them, by their negligent conduct describer below, failed to act with reasonable care, violated relevant and prevailing industry standards, and negligently exercised their assigned and assumed duties in the filming of this motion picture. Those duties encompassed responsibilities and required maintaining an industry-appropriate standard of care to prevent just this type of occurrence. These failures caused and contributed to the discharge of a live bullet on the Rust set and the resulting damages to Plaintiff and others.

The 25-page document placed in the docket in LA Superior Court today desires a jury trial. The production has not responded to request for comment from Deadline on the suit. If and when they do, we will update.

As a trio of search warrants executed by the Santa Fe Sheriff’s office have found a cache of weapons and, according to Sheriff Adan Mendoza, “500 rounds of ammunition … a mix of blanks, dummy rounds and what we are suspecting are live rounds,” lawyers for Gutierrez Reed have postulated a “sabotage” theory to explain the horror that occurred.

Disputed by

On set when the tragedy occurred, Svetnoy was one of the few Rust crew members to speak out publicly about what went sideways on set as many quickly became silenced due to the ongoing probe by police.

In a Facebook post on Oct. 24, Sevetnoy called out “the person who was supposed to check the weapon on the site did not do this; the person who had to announce that the loaded gun was on the site did not do this; the person who should have checked this weapon before bringing it to the set did not do it.”

“To save a dime sometimes,” Svetnoy continued, “you hire people who are not fully qualified for the complicated and dangerous job, and you risk the lives of the other people who are close and your lives as well. I understand that you always fight for the budget, but you cannot allow this to happen. … It is true that the professionals can cost a little more and sometimes can be a little bit more demanding, but it is worth it. No saved penny is worth the LIFE of the person!”

“Yes, I was standing shoulder-to-shoulder with Halyna during this fatal shot that took her life and injured the director Joel Souza,” Svetnoy writers. “I was holding her in my arms while she was dying. Her blood was on my hands.”

Svetnoy did not specifically name Rust armorer Hannah Gutierrez Reed in his Facebook rant.

“I’m sure that we had the professionals in every department, but one – the department that was responsible for the weapons. There is no way a twenty-four-year-old woman can be a professional with armory; there is no way that her more-or-less the same-aged friend from school, neighborhood, Instagram, or God knows where else, can be a professional in this field.

“Professionals are the people who have spent years on sets, people who know this job from A to Z; These are the people who have the safety on set at the level of reflexes; they do not need to be told to put the sandbag on a tripod, fix the ladder on the stage, or fence off the explosion site. They have it in their blood.”

Last month Svetnoy also made sure to name the producers: “To save a dime sometimes, you hire people who are not fully qualified for the complicated and dangerous job, and you risk the lives of the other people who are close and your lives as well.

“I understand that you always fight for the budget, but you cannot allow this to happen. There should always be at least one professional in each department who knows the job. It is an absolute must to avoid such a tragedy, like the tragedy with Halyna.”


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