Insurance for ‘Rust’ production set is limited should lawsuits be filed.
On October 21, 2021, Halyna Hutchins, 42, passed away on the set of the film “Rust,” and now her family is likely working up a wrongful death lawsuit. The insurance policy, put into placed by Front Row Insurance Brokers, covers the production up to only $6 million. General liability coverage is limited to $1 million per occurrence and a commercial umbrella policy (an added supplement) covers an additional $5 million.
Hutchins, a talented Ukrainian cinematographer, actress, and journalist had 30 film credits at the time of her death, including short films and TV miniseries. She left behind her spouse and son who will be the recipients of any wrongful death payout. However, director Joel Souza was also shot and wounded on the set, so he could also submit a personal injury claim. This means, the family and Souza might have to share.
Taking a lawsuit to trial could allow Hutchins to collect punitive damages in the state of New Mexico. Under state law, if there’s sufficient evidence of of “recklessness or wanton misconduct,” these damages could be awarded by a jury. And it seems there is in this case.
A real gun (.45 Long Colt) was used, and many experts contend that a real gun can never be used on a set, so that alone violates the law. At the time of the fatal shot, anyone near the where the weapon was being used should have been cleared out of the way.
The gun itself was not adequately inspected before it was handed over to Alec Baldwin, either and sources say it may have been left unattended for up to two hours before it was handed to him. It was on a prop cart, loaded with six dummy rounds by the armorer, Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, who took prop ammunition from a box labeled “dummies,” according to her attorney, Jason Bowles. These are used, of course, in place of live rounds and look identical to these.
Bowles said anyone who believes the gun was unattended is mistaken and that it has been secured in a safe during the cast and crew’s lunch break. It had only been left unattended for “a total of five to ten minutes,” he said. However, other sources reported that some crew members were using it, with real ammunition, for target practice, so there is a myriad of conflicting accounts with some indication that negligence could be proven if the case is taken to trial.
Baldwin, sources report, is suffering significant mental trauma in the aftermath and psychologist Maryann Gray empathizes with him. In 1977, she unintentionally hit an 8-year-old boy, who ran in front of her car on a rural highway.
“I do have a lot of compassion for him,” Gray said. “If he’s like most people who unintentionally kill someone, he’s suffering with a variety of challenges, one of them is certainly trauma.”