Serge Svetnoy, a film gaffer, has sued actor Alec Baldwin and the producers of 'Rust' over a shooting that resulted in the death of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins, accusing them of "general negligence."
The case, filed Wednesday in Los Angeles Superior Court, is the first of what may be a series of legal measures stemming from last month's shooting on the New Mexico set of 'Rust.' The case includes more than 20 defendants, including assistant director David Halls, who handed Baldwin the gun, and armorer Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, who monitored firearms on the set.
Baldwin allegedly discharged the rifle after being informed by Halls that it was "cold," which meant it was not filled with live ammunition, killing Hutchins and wounded 'Rust' director Joel Souza. Svetnoy said that the gunshot missed him entirely and that he held Hutchins in his arms as she died.
The lawsuit stated that Baldwin's and the other defendants' actions caused the plaintiff "severe emotional distress" and would perpetuate him. "There was no reason to throw a live bullet in that. 45 Colt pistol to be present anywhere on the set of 'Rust,' and the existence of a bullet in a revolver created a lethal hazard to everyone in its vicinity," the suit continued.
Svetnoy charged that the film's producers cut corners by failing to hire a "competent and experienced" armorer. However, a lawyer for Gutierrez-Reed, 24, claims that a live cartridge was placed in a box of dummy rounds on the film's set as an act of "sabotage."
On Wednesday, attorney Jason Bowles reaffirmed the accusation, adding, "We are convinced that this was sabotage and that Hannah is being framed." We believe that the scene was also tampered with before the arrival of the police."
He added that Gutierrez-Reed met with the Santa Fe County Sheriff's Department investigators on Tuesday and conducted an "in-depth interview."
"We eagerly await the FBI's investigation as well, and we are requesting a thorough examination of all of the facts, including the live rounds themselves, their route to the dummies box, and who placed them there," Bowles added.
Mary Carmack-Altwies, the district attorney for Santa Fe County, announced Wednesday that additional live rounds had been discovered on the 'Rust' set. "We're still trying to figure out how they got on set," she told ABC News. "And how they got there, I believe, will be one of the most significant factors in determining whether to charge."
Svetnoy's claim, which seeks specific compensation and punitive damages, outlined a succession of alleged failures to properly test the pistol during its loading by Gutierrez-Reed, transfer to Halls, transfer to Baldwin, and subsequent firing.