Breaking Down the Multiple Lawsuits of Alec Baldwin’s Rust Shooting

It’s been more than a year since actor Alec Baldwin fired a gun on the set of the movie Rust and killed cinematographer Halyna Hutchins. Since then, there have been multiple investigations and lawsuits.

What’s the status of each case, and what does it mean for the shooter?

The Shooting

October 21, 2021, was a fairly normal day on the set of the movie Rust. The crew was filming on location in Santa Fe, New Mexico and preparing for a scene which featured a close-up of Baldwin drawing a .45 revolver from a shoulder holster. According to reports, the movie’s first assistant director, Dave Halls, called out “cold gun” and handed the revolver to Baldwin, who is a star of the movie and also one of its producers.

Baldwin moved to practice the cross-draw motion, and the gun went off.

It discharged live ammunition that hit Halyna Hutchins, the movie’s cinematographer, and Joel Souza, the movie’s director. Hutchins died from her injuries.

The Script Supervisor’s Civil Lawsuit

In November 2021, the first legal action over the shooting took place. The movie’s script supervisor, Mamie Mitchell filed a civil lawsuit in Los Angeles Superior Court against the producers of the film, including Mr. Baldwin, and several members of its crew.

The lawsuit claims assault, intentional infliction of emotional distress, and deliberate infliction of harm, and requested unspecified damages. As reported by the New York Times, the lawsuit said, “Alec Baldwin intentionally, without just cause or excuse, cocked and fired the loaded gun even though the upcoming scene to be filmed did not call for the cocking and firing of a firearm.”

The case is weaving its way through the court system (more on its status later in this post).

Related: Types of Personal Injury Cases: See If You Have a Claim   

The Hutchins’ Family Wrongful Death Lawsuit

In February 2022, Hutchins’ family filed a wrongful death lawsuit in Santa Fe, New Mexico, against Baldwin, the film’s production companies, its producers, and other key members of the crew. It alleged numerous industry-standard violations, according to reports.

In October 2022, the family reached a settlement. While all the details haven’t been released, Halyna Hutchins’s husband Matthew Hutchins shared some of the details of the settlement in a statement.

Matthew Hutchins indicated that the wrongful death case will be dismissed, filming of the movie will resume, and he will now serve as an executive producer, which means he will receive a portion of the film’s profits.

As for assigning blame to Baldwin, Matthew Hutchins said, “I have no interest in engaging in recriminations or attribution of blame.”

Related: How Do You Sue for Wrongful Death? 

The Criminal Investigation

In October 2022, the Santa Fe County Sheriff’s Department said it completed its criminal investigation into the shooting. It delivered its investigative report but didn’t publicly disclose whether it had recommended charges be filed.

According to Forbes, it’s now up to New Mexico First Judicial District Attorney Mary Carmack-Altwies and her team to decide whether or not to bring charges. It was reported that the New Mexico Board of Finance granted the DA’s office over $300,000 to be used to possibly prosecute up to four people.

At this time, no charges have been filed.

Related: Will Alec Baldwin Face Criminal Charges in Movie Set Shooting?   

The Baldwin Cross-Complaint

In November 2022, Baldwin filed his own lawsuit related to the shooting. He filed a cross-complaint to the lawsuit filed by script supervisor, Mamie Mitchell.

According to reports, the cross-complaint is against the production’s armorer Hannah Gutierrez Reed, assistant director David Halls, prop master Sarah Zachry, armorer assistant Seth Kenney, and the prop weapon and ammunition supply store company Kenney owns.

All four of the individuals included in the cross-complaint were also named as defendants, along with Baldwin, in Mitchell’s lawsuit. Baldwin’s cross-complaint says Baldwin is being seen as the “perpetrator of this tragedy,” and it was filed to “clear” Baldwin’s name.

It outlines what Baldwin’s team believes is the misconduct of others on the set. The lawsuit says, “This tragedy happened because live bullets were delivered to the set and loaded into the gun, Gutierrez Reed failed to check the bullets or the gun carefully, Halls failed to check the gun carefully and yet announced the gun was safe before handing it to Baldwin, and Zachry failed to disclose that Gutierrez Reed had been acting recklessly off set and was a safety risk to those around her.”

Baldwin is suing for damages and asking for indemnification from legal damages that might arise from Mitchell’s case. We’ll have to wait and see what happens in Mitchell’s original lawsuit as well as Baldwin’s cross-complaint.

Related: What’s the Difference Between a Civil and Criminal Case? 

Have a Trusted Attorney by Your Side

One incident can lead to a variety of lawsuits and investigations. If you are involved in a legal matter, make sure you have an attorney by your side who can handle whatever issues come your way.

To talk to an attorney who can fight for you on civil or criminal charges. Schedule a free call with attorney TJ Grimaldi to see how he can help you navigate complex legal challenges. Request your consultation or call 813-226-1023 today.

Gabby Petito’s Parents File $50 Million Wrongful Death Lawsuit Against Utah Police

Gabby Petito’s parents can’t get criminal justice for their daughter. The man who admitted to murdering their daughter killed himself just weeks after Petito’s body was found. But, that hasn’t stopped Petito’s parents from seeking justice.

Petito’s parents recently filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Utah police for $50 million.

Why are Petito’s parents seeking justice in civil court, and do they have a case?

The Gabby Petito Criminal Case

In early September 2021, Gabby Petito, became national news when she went missing while on a months-long cross-country road trip with her fiance, Brian Laundrie. Laundrie returned to their home state of Florida without Petito and claimed he didn’t know where she was.

A few weeks later, Petito’s body was found at Bridger-Teton National Forest in Wyoming. Investigators said she was dead for at least three weeks and that her cause of death was homicide by manual strangulation.

Police had a suspect — Petito’s fiance, Brian Laundrie — but he was nowhere to be found.

After a lengthy search, Laundrie’s body was finally found in October 2021. Laundrie had died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound in Florida’s Carlton Reserve. Near his body were journals in which he wrote that he had killed Petito.

Petito’s parents had proof Laundrie killed their daugher, but they had no way to seek justice in criminal courts since Laundrie had died.

Now, they are fighting for justice in civil court.

Related: What’s the Difference Between a Civil and Criminal Case? 

The Gabby Petito Civil Case Against Utah Police

On August 8, 2022, Petito’s family sued for wrongful death. They filed a $50 million civil lawsuit against Utah police.

According to NBC News, the notice of intent was filed against Moab City Police Department, its then-Chief Bret Edge, exAssistant Chief Braydon Palmer, and Officers Eric Pratt and Daniel Robbins.

The lawsuit says Utah police failed to properly investigate a domestic violence incident involving Petito and Laundrie on August 12, 2021, about a month before Petito went missing.

On that day, police received a call about a domestic disturbance involving two people in a van. The caller said they saw “the gentleman slapping the girl” before the couple left in the van. Police found the van and pulled it over after an officer saw the vehicle cross the double yellow line and strike a curb. Body cam footage shows the police encounter.

Petito’s family believes police mishandled the situation and could have saved their daughter’s life if they had acted differently.

Related: Examples of Wrongful Death Cases Worth Fighting For

Why The $50 Million Civil Suit Against Utah Police?

The wrongful death lawsuit alleges that police didn’t have the proper training and ability to classify the incident involving Petito and Laundrie, and if they had, they would have seen that Petito was in danger.

In body cam footage, Petito is visibly distraught. She told police she slapped Laundrie and then he grabbed her face. Yet, police failed to ask Laundrie about a scratch on Petito’s cheek, and no statement was taken from the caller who reportedly saw Laundrie strike Petito.

Lawyers representing Petito’s family also say they have a photo that hasn’t been released to the public that shows a close-up of Petitor’s face where “blood is smeared on her cheek and left eye.”

The family believes the evidence should have been enough for police to classify the incident as a domestic violence situation and recognize that Petito was in danger.

“The officers did not question Brian about the inconsistencies in his version of events. Instead, they determined that Gabby was the primary aggressor and that Brian was a potential victim of domestic violence,” the lawsuit says. Laundrie also told police he took Petito’s phone because he didn’t have one, and then he can be seen taking out his phone later while talking to police.

At the time, neither Petito nor Laundrie said they wanted to press charges. No charges were filed, and the police told the couple to separate for the night. Police classified the case as disorderly conduct, not domestic abuse.

Related: Dealing With the Media During a High-Profile Case: What to Expect

The Wrong Classification

Classifying the case as disorderly conduct instead of domestic abuse is the primary reason for the Petito family lawsuit.

If the incident had been categorized as domestic violence, it would have required officers to issue a citation or make an arrest. Police would have had to send their report to prosecutors. But, this didn’t happen. An officer wrote in a report, it appeared the incident was “more accurately categorized as a mental/emotional health ‘break’ than a domestic assault.”

The Petitos aren’t alone in their opinion that the case was handled improperly. A report conducted by Capt. Brandon Ratcliffe of the Price City Police Department in Utah found that the officers misclassified the incident, according to NBC News.

It also seems that officers were unsure of what to do that day. One of the officers called Assistant Chief Palmer for assistance during the stop. The officer was told to read the statute carefully and make a decision.

Now, the court will decide whether or not Utah police are partially at fault for what happened to Petito. James McConkie, one of the attorneys retained in the case said, “Failure to follow the law can have deadly consequence, as it did in this case.”

(The Petitos have another pending civil case against Laundrie’s parents. It alleges that the Laundries hindered the police investigation into Petito’s disappearance.)

Related: Can Brian Laundrie’s Parents Get Into Legal Trouble in the Gabby Petito Case?

How to Seek Justice for a Love One

Petito’s parents are exercising their right to fight for justice for their daughter.

If you believe someone you love has experienced death or injury due to the negligence of another party, talk to a wrongful death attorney today. Explore your options for seeking justice. Talk to TJ Grimaldi about your case to see what you can do. Schedule your consultation or call 813-226-1023 today.

3 Florida Police Officers Charged with Manslaughter in Stun Gun Death

At 2:45 a.m. on October 14, 2021, three officers showed up at the home of Calvin Wilks Jr. The encounter ended with the death of 40-year-old Wilks and now, three manslaughter charges against the officers who were there.

What happened, and how will the case make it through two types of court systems?

What Led to the Stun Gun Discharge?

On October 14, 2021, police say they received a call from a resident who heard shouts coming from her neighbor’s residence around 2:45 a.m. The resident said she thought she heard a woman yell, “Please stop.”

When police arrived, Wilks answered the door and was initially cooperative, but then he closed the door and refused to open it. After about five minutes, police say Wilks opened the door again and was in a “highly agitated state.” He told police the woman who lived at the residence was in the parking lot, but police could not locate her.

According to the Tampa Bay Times, Police said Wilks continued to act out. In a news release, police said, “Mr. Wilks continued to act aggressive and made several attempts to close the door on an officer’s foot, slamming it several times. Officers attempted to deescalate Mr. Wilks’ aggressive behavior. After receiving no cooperation from Mr. Wilks, officers attempted to detain Mr. Wilks who became combative, and physically resisted by pulling away and kicking the detaining officers. During the incident, Mr. Wilks was tased in the hip, and eventually officers were able to restrain him.”

Wilks was unresponsive after being tased.

Police said they called emergency medical services because they thought Wilks was on drugs. An ambulance arrived and took Wilks to a hospital, where he died the next day.

What Led to Charges Against the Police Officers?

On June 7, 2022, a grand jury in Okaloosa County, Florida, examined the evidence surrounding the death of Wilks and charged the three Crestview Florida police officers: Brandon Hardaway, William Johns, and Evan Reynolds with manslaughter.

Wilks’ death was ruled a homicide by the medical examiner, and there is 45 minutes of body cam footage from the incident. It is reported that Wilks was shot with stun guns at least five times, and Wilks’ family says body cam footage shows police watching Wilks struggle without offering aid, according to Yahoo! News.

After the charges were made, State Attorney Ginger Bowden Madden said in a news release, “Let us understand that our law enforcement officers face a difficult job every day; however, the sanctity of a life must never be unjustifiably compromised.”

Now, the police officers may face both criminal manslaughter charges and civil wrongful death charges.

Related: If You’re Arrested for a Crime, Immediately Take These 6 Steps

What Are the Criminal Charges?

Manslaughter is a type of criminal charge that is less serious than a murder charge, but it still carries heavy potential consequences. Defined under Florida Statute 782.07, manslaughter refers to cases where the defendant’s actions led to a death, but the actions were not premeditated or planned. Unlike a murder charge, there is no premeditation to kill in a manslaughter charge.

The consequences of manslaughter conviction in Florida may be up to:

  • 15 years in prison
  • 15 years of probation
  • $10,000 fine

The Crestview Police Department says the officers are suspended pending the outcome of the criminal case. All three men were indicted and released on a $10,000 bond. They are set to appear in court on July 7, 2022.

Related: Get Good Legal Representation by Asking This One Question

What Are the Potential Civil Charges?

In addition to criminal manslaughter charges, the police officers are now facing potential civil wrongful death charges.

According to Yahoo! News, Bart Fleet, the personal representative of the estate of Calvin Wilks, has appointed Crestview lawyer Gillis E. Powell to represent the estate in a wrongful death action.

Wilks’ family plans to sue for wrongful death. To win, they will need to prove:

  • Wilks’ death was the result of negligence or maliciousness of an at-fault party
  • Wilks’ death led to financial and/or emotional damages for his surviving family

At this time, it isn’t clear if the family plans to sue the officers, the police department, and/or any other parties.

Related: What’s the Difference Between a Civil and Criminal Case? 

Get Expert Legal Advice Today

If you or a loved one are involved in criminal or civil litigation, it’s a serious matter.

Don’t wait to talk to an experienced attorney who can offer expert legal advice. Talk to an experienced criminal and civil attorney today. If you have questions about a pending case, contact TJ Grimaldi. Call 813-226-1023 or request your consultation today to speak directly with TJ about the details of your case.

Man Sued for $15 Million After His Mechanic Dies While Changing His Car’s Oil

A man in Rochester Hills, Michigan, was running a standard errand. He took his car to the dealership to have his oil changed. While he sat in the lobby waiting for his car, there was an accident in the shop. A mechanic drove the car into another mechanic, killing him.

Two years later, the car owner faces a $15 million lawsuit for the accident he had nothing to do with.

Why is he liable? And ultimately, who will be responsible for the terrible accident?

Related: How Do You Sue for Wrongful Death?

What Went Wrong in the Auto Shop?

In March 2020, a man brought his car in for an oil change and handed his keys over to the Rochester Hills Chrysler Jeep Dodge dealership. He sat in the waiting room while the dealership took the car into the shop for service. At some point, a 19-year-old mechanic got behind the wheel of the man’s vehicle, and tragedy occurred.

“He starts the car, removes his foot from the clutch, and you know what happens? The Jeep jumps and kills my client,” recounts David Femminineo, the attorney representing the family of the man who died.

The young mechanic made a mistake which caused the car to move forward and hit another mechanic, 42-year-old Jeffrey Hawkins who died instantly. It was later reported that the young mechanic didn’t know how to drive a stick-shift vehicle and had no license, according to a report by Fox 13.

Now, two years later, the Hawkins family is fighting for damages as a result of the accident. They are suing for $15 million. But, the defendant isn’t the person who caused the accident or the owner of the dealership.

The defendant in the case is the owner of the car.

Related: 5 Reasons to Contact a Car Accident Lawyer After a Crash 

How Are the Mechanic’s Family Seeking Justice?

The owner of the car was seated in the waiting room when the accident occured, but Michigan law holds him responsible for what happened and potentially liable for $15 million in damages.

According to Michigan law, when someone is injured or killed and a vehicle is involved, the owner of the car is responsible, as reported by Fox 2.

While it may seem like the dealership or the driver of the car should be responsible, Michigan law makes it impossible for the victim’s family to sue them because the accident happened at work and involved two employees. In Michigan, an injured coworker cannot sue the boss because of the boss’ negligence. The family cannot sue the dealership or driver for wrongful death, so they are exercising another option.

The family sued the owner of the vehicle. Michigan state law says the owner of a car is responsible for the acts of anyone driving their car. The car owner’s insurance company has already paid out $100,000, and the Hawkins family is seeking an additional $15 million.

But, it doesn’t mean the driver will have to pay.

Related: Workplace Accidents: Is It Workers’ Comp or Personal Injury?   

So, Who Is Legally Responsible?

The owner of the car has filed a lawsuit of his own. He has sued the owner of the dealership for indemnity, which passes responsibility for the accident back onto the dealership.

A court has determined that the car dealership is responsible for the losses or damages incurred by the driver as a result of the accident. The lawsuit puts the burden back on the dealership, meaning the dealership — not the driver — is responsible for damages in the Hawkins’ lawsuit.

As the indemnity lawsuit currently stands, the dealership will be responsible for covering the damages If the Hawkins family wins their lawsuit.

But, the driver isn’t off the hook yet.

The dealership is going to appeal the indemnity ruling. If the ruling in the case is reversed, the burden of damages would again fall back onto the owner of the car.

The wrongful death case is now headed to trial. Both the owner of the car and the dealership are fighting to avoid liability in the case. The attorney representing the dealership is now working with the owner of the car’s legal team as they both have an interest in winning the case. If the Hawkins family fails to win their case, both the owner of the car and the owner of the dealership can avoid liability in the case.

Related: How to Prove Fault in Personal Injury Case

Talk to an Experienced Wrongful Death Attorney

As you can see, personal injury and wrongful death cases can be complicated. Options for families to receive compensation aren’t always clear. But one thing is clear: if you had a family member injured or killed in an accident, you deserve justice.

Talk to a personal injury attorney or a wrongful death attorney if you have experienced damages or losses as a result of another party’s negligence. Discuss your case today by contacting attorney, TJ Grimaldi. Schedule your free consultation or call 813-226-1023 to see how TJ and his legal team can help you get justice for your loved one.