A judge said in a written tentative ruling Tuesday that he is poised to pare some claims in a lawsuit brought by the script supervisor for the film “Rust” against Alec Baldwin’s production company stemming from the accidental shooting of two crew members, but not the causes of action against Baldwin himself.
Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Michael Whitaker also says he is inclined to deny a defense motion to strike Mamie Mitchell’s claim for punitive damages against the 64-year-old performer and his firm, El Dorado Pictures Inc. The judge was scheduled to hear arguments later Tuesday before issuing a final ruling.
Mitchell maintains she was standing nearby when Baldwin accidentally shot and killed cinematographer Halyna Hutchins and wounded the film’s director, Joel Souza, on Oct. 21, 2021, in a replica church on the “Rust” movie set in New Mexico, leaving her with physical and emotional damages.
Whitaker says he is leaning toward dismissing Mitchell’s assault and intentional infliction of emotional distress claims against El Dorado, but not against Baldwin, and permitting the plaintiff to move forward with her negligence claim against both.
Addressing Baldwin’s motion to strike Mitchell’s punitive damages claim, the judge said the plaintiff alleges the ammunition, including the gun discharged by Baldwin, had regularly been left unattended throughout the filming prior to the incident, and that loaded firearms had been used by crew members for target practice by crew members against safety protocols.
The judge also noted that Mitchell alleges Baldwin and El Dorado “intentionally undertook a low budget and cost-cutting scheme that was known to create unsafe conditions for movie production crews that resulted in (the defendants’) failure to ensure basic safety protocols with respect to the hazardous use of firearms.”
Mitchell lives in New Mexico and the events occurred there, so her arguments are being made under that state’s laws.
Attorneys for Baldwin and El Dorado filed court papers Sept. 2 asking that their clients be dismissed as defendants in the most recent version of Mitchell’s suit filed Aug. 3. The lawyers also state that California law governs the issue of punitive damages and that they should be stricken from Mitchell’s case, alleging she has failed to show any intentional or despicable conduct by Baldwin.
The Baldwin/El Dorado attorneys further argue in their court papers that Mitchell does not explain how the actor, his company or any of the other defendants owed a duty of care to her that made them negligent.
The gun held by Baldwin “accidentally and unexpectedly discharged a live round, injuring director Joel Souza and leading to the death of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins,” the Baldwin/El Dorado lawyers further maintain in their court papers.