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Rust assistant director Dave Halls is moving to shield himself from legal trouble over his role in the on-set shooting that resulted in the death and injury of two crewmembers.
Halls countersued Alec Baldwin and other crewmembers, arguing that it was their “active and primary negligence” that caused the incident. The suit comes on the heels of another countersuit filed by Baldwin in November blaming Halls, armorer Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, prop master Sarah Zachry and ammunition supplier Seth Kenney for the shooting that killed cinematographer Halyna Hutchins.
Halls’ complaint filed in Los Angeles Superior Court on Friday was brought as part of sprawling litigation started by script supervisor Mamie Mitchell, who sued Baldwin along with 22 other producers, production companies, financiers and crewmembers after a loaded gun was fired on set, killing Hutchins and injuring director Joel Souza. She details a disastrous safety culture on the set of Rust where producers shirked industry-wide norms related to the use of guns to shoot the film on a shoestring budget.
If Mitchell prevails in her lawsuit, Halls argues that Baldwin, Gutierrez-Reed, Zachry and Kenney should be held liable for his apportionment of the fault. He seeks a court order entitling him to compensation from them if he’s found liable for her injuries.
“Each of the Cross-Defendants were negligently or tortiously responsible, in whole or in part, in some proportional relation to themselves and to Cross-Complainant, for the injuries, if any, allegedly suffered by Plaintiff,” reads the complaint. “Further, that in the event Cross-Complainant be judged jointly liable with Cross-Defendants, each Cross-Defendant herein be required to pay to Cross-Complainant a sum equal to the proportionate share of monetary payments, if any there be, made to Plaintiff.”
Halls points to a written agreement, which allegedly states that he will be indemnified and owed a duty of defense against any and all liabilities and costs arising out of personal injury, death or damage from the production. He says that he’s personally been paying for litigation related to the shooting.
In his countersuit, Halls also claims breach of contract over the failure to “procure the required insurance” and name him a party to the policy.
Lawsuits against Halls and others blame him for the shooting because he handled the gun shortly before the incident, handing it off to Baldwin. In December, a judge dismissed claims of assault and battery and intentional infliction of emotional distress against him. Los Angeles Superior Court judge Michael Whitaker found that Halls couldn’t have known that Baldwin would actually aim and fire the gun toward Mitchell since the scene didn’t call for the weapon to be discharged. He still faces a claim for negligence and the prospect of punitive damages.
The judge overseeing the case also dismissed the same claims against Rust Movie Productions, Thomasville Pictures, Ryan Smith and Langley Cheney. Only Baldwin still faces claims of assault, intentional infliction of emotional distress and negligence.
Jason Bowles, representing Gutierrez-Reed, declined to comment. Attorneys for Baldwin, Kenney and Zachry didn’t respond to requests for comment.
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