‘Rust’ first assistant director Halls countersues Baldwin in spiraling web of litigation

The set of "Rust" at Bonanza Creek Ranch near Santa Fe, N.M.
Bonanza Creek Ranch one day after an incident left one crew member dead and another injured on the set of the movie “Rust,” Oct. 22, 2021, in Santa Fe, N.M.
(Roberto E. Rosales / Albuquerque Journal)

In an increasingly complex web of litigation, “Rust” first assistant director Dave Halls countersued Alec Baldwin and other crew members from the film, during the production of which the actor accidentally shot and killed cinematographer Halyna Hutchins.

Halls’ suit, filed in Los Angeles Superior Court on Friday, follows a lawsuit brought by Baldwin last month that alleged that the assistant director and other crew members negligently caused Hutchins’ death by failing to follow proper safety procedures on set.

Baldwin’s lawsuit, in turn, was in response to a complaint filed by “Rust” script supervisor Mamie Mitchell accusing the actor and others of negligence.

In his lawsuit, Halls said he was in no way liable for any harm suffered by Mitchell. He blamed Baldwin, prop master Sarah Zachry, armorer Hannah Gutierrez Reed and weapons supplier Seth Kenney and his company for breaching their duties to him.

Halls is seeking to be indemnified against Baldwin and the other crew members, as well as compensation for any damages he may be liable for if Mitchell wins her case.

Gloria Allred, attorney for Mitchell, declined to comment. An attorney for Baldwin did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

“[Halls] continues to contend that he is in no way actionably liable for the events and occurrences ... alleged in Plaintiff’s operative complaint,” Halls’ attorney wrote in his complaint.

The litigation was filed as a New Mexico district attorney, Mary Carmack-Altwies, weighs whether to bring criminal charges against Baldwin and up to three other people in the new year.

The filing is the latest in a web of increasingly complex lawsuits being waged in Los Angeles and New Mexico following the deadly shooting that sparked calls for greater safety measures on sets.

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Last month, Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Michael Whitaker decided that Mitchell could proceed with her claims against Baldwin for assault, intentional infliction of emotional distress and negligence.

Mitchell had been standing close to Hutchins when a bullet from Baldwin’s gun struck and killed the cinematographer and injured director Joel Souza.

In court filings, Baldwin denied each of Mitchell’s allegations and contended that other crew members had failed to follow safety procedures. The actor alleged Halls was supposed to hold safety meetings every day that weapons were used on set but did not, citing interviews by New Mexico’s Occupational Health and Safety Bureau.

Attorneys for Gutierrez Reed, Zachry and Kenney did not immediately respond to requests for comment.