Judge says Alec Baldwin settlement in fatal shooting sealed
Apr 17, 2023, 3:42 PM
SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — A judge has agreed to seal from public view the terms of a proposed settlement agreement that benefits the son of slain cinematographer Halyna Hutchins, in a wrongful death lawsuit against actor Alec Baldwin and an array of producers and crew involved linked to Hutchins’ death in a fatal filmset shooting.
The New Mexico judge cited privacy concerns about Halyna’s 10-year-old son, Andros Hutchins.
Baldwin, an actor and film coproducer, was pointing a pistol at cinematographer Halyna Hutchins when the gun went off, killing her and wounding the director, Joel Souza, on the set of the Western movie “Rust” during a movie rehearsal on the outskirts of Santa Fe in 2021.
Widower Matthew Hutchins filed the wrongful death suit last year against “Rust” producers, including Baldwin, as well as members of the film crew with safety responsibilities and an ammunition supplier. Son Andros Hutchins, who was 9 at the time of the shooting, is also named as a plaintiff.
Attorneys for they boy said Monday that secrecy provisions are paramount to protect the boy’s privacy and finalize a settlement with “Rust” producers.
At least five other civil lawsuits related to Halyna Hutchins’ death are pending in courts. Plaintiffs in those cases asked for the hearings to remain open. They worried about unforeseen consequences if the agreement were to collapse, and implications for insurance payments in other lawsuits.
But the judge agreed that the privacy rights of the boy outweighed court obligations for public disclosure, and ordered that the settlement documents and approval hearings be sealed.
“What is driving my decision is really the interests of the minor child. And that is one of the very most powerful reasons to seal a matter,” said District Court Judge Bryan Biedscheid, in a videoconference hearing of the Santa Fe-based court.
The civil lawsuit argues that Baldwin and other film crewmembers ignored industry gun safety rules on the set of “Rust.” Baldwin and other defendants have disputed those accusations.
Knowledge of the settlement terms also will be off limits to people beyond “Rust” producers who were named as defendants in the lawsuit, including weapons supervisor Hannah Gutierrez-Reed. Several of those defendants objected to being left in the dark on details of the settlement, though approval of the agreement should end their involvement in the wrongful death suit.
Gutierrez-Reed and Baldwin are also confronting criminal charges of involuntary manslaughter in separate court proceedings and have pleaded not guilty, with two weeks of evidentiary hearings scheduled in May.
Widower Matthew Hutchins outlined a proposed settlement agreement in October that opened the way for filming to resume in Montana. He’ll serve as a producer.