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Judge Rules ‘Rust’ Script Supervisor Can Seek Punitive Damages in Lawsuit; Court Hearing Set For Sept.

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OPINION: This article may contain commentary which reflects the author's opinion.


Judge Michael E. Whitaker ruled on Thursday that “Rust” script supervisor Mamie Mitchell’s lawsuit against Alec Baldwin and other producers has been rescheduled for September 28.

Judge Whitaker moved the hearing to give the plaintiff the option to file an amended complaint and that he can seek punitive damages.

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“Mitchell, who was standing next to cinematographer Halyna Hutchins when Hutchins was fatally shot with a prop weapon fired by the actor in October. Mitchell alleges extensive negligence on the New Mexico set and that the scene Baldwin was rehearsing never called for him to fire the weapon,” Deadline’s Dominic Patten reported.

“Last month, a Superior Court judge in Los Angeles ruled that Mamie Mitchell, the script supervisor who was standing next to cinematographer Halyna Hutchins when she was fatally shot with a prop weapon fired by actor Alec Baldwin on the Rust film set, can seek punitive damages from some of the producers who sought to have the damages stricken,” the report added.

“For pleading purposes, the court finds the first amended complaint alleges facts sufficient to establish despicable conduct carried out by moving defendants with a willful and conscious disregard of the rights or safety of others,” the judge wrote at the time.

Whitaker also noted that Mitchell’s lawyers alleged the four defendants “intentionally undertook a low-budget and cost-cutting scheme that was known to create unsafe conditions for movie production crews that resulted in moving defendants’ failure to ensure basic safety protocols with respect to the hazardous use of firearms.”

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In their court papers, Mitchell’s attorneys alleged the producers “intentionally failed to hire experienced crew members to manage and handle the numerous weapons that were to be used in the film.”

Last month, Santa Fe County Sheriff Adan Mendoza told the TODAY show that Alec Baldwin is “not off the hook” for the deadly incident.

“I don’t think anybody’s off the hook when it comes to criminal charges. I’ve said this before: I think there was complacency on the set. There was disorganization and a degree of negligence — whether that rises to a criminal level, that will be up to the district attorney,” he said during the interview.

Baldwin is still part of the ongoing investigation into the Oct. 21, 2021, shooting of Hutchins on the New Mexico set of “Rust” after the actor fired a loaded gun at the cinematographer.

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Baldwin previously declared that he does not believe any charges will be coming for him in the shooting death of a cinematographer on the set of his movie “Rust” but the district attorney does not necessarily agree.

“Someone put a live bullet in a gun, a bullet that wasn’t even supposed to be on the property,” the actor said to ABC News host George Stephanopoulos said. “Someone is ​responsible for what happened, and I can’t say who that is, but I know it’s not me.”

“I don’t know what happened on that set. I don’t know how that bullet arrived in that gun. I don’t know,” he said. “But I’m all for doing anything that will take us to a place where this is less likely to happen again.”

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But then he made the statement that has ruffled the feathers of some in law enforcement who are working on the case.

“I’ve been told by people who are in the know, in terms of even inside the state, that it’s highly unlikely that I would be charged with anything criminally,” Baldwin said.

First Judicial District Attorney Mary Carmack-Altwies appeared to respond directly to Baldwin’s interview on Friday when she said to Deadline, “certain individuals may be criminally culpable for his/her actions and/or inactions on the set of Rust.

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She said that she plans to “exercise my prosecutorial discretion to its fullest, including filing charges that are supported by probable cause,” Carmack-Altwies also said today that her office is “exploring various legal theories at the time.”

“Everyone involved in the handling and use of firearms on the set had a duty to behave in a manner such that the safety of others was protected, and it appears that certain actions and inactions contributed to this outcome,” she said.

“As the First Judicial District Attorney, I have not made a decision to charge or not charge any individuals involved in the shooting that resulted in the death of Halyna Hutchins and injury of Joel Souza,” she said.

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