In a development that will hopefully offer closure to the family of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins, who was killed in the fall of 2021 on the set of the movie Rust, a judge has approved a settlement in the wrongful death lawsuit filed against actor and producer Alec Baldwin and several others, as the New York Post reports.
Hutchins died when a single-action pistol held by Baldwin unexpectedly fired during rehearsals, and her husband and son ultimately decided to pursue compensation via the now-settled civil action.
It was back in October that Hutchins' family announced that it had come to terms with the defendants in their wrongful death suit, as ABC News noted at the time, but the case could not be considered fully resolved until it received approval from a judge, something which finally occurred on Thursday.
“We have reached a settlement, subject to court approval, for our wrongful death case against the producers of Rust, including Alec Baldwin and Rust Movie Productions, LLC. As part of that settlement, our case will be dismissed,” the cinematographer's widower, Matthew Hutchins, said back in the fall.
Though the dollar figure involved in the settlement has not been disclosed, the sums payable will be placed into structured annuities that will be distributed to Hutchins' son – who was just nine years old at the time of his mother's death – once he reaches the ages of 18 and 22, as Breitbart notes.
Notably, the settlement also provided Matthew Hutchins with the status of executive producer on the film, which resumed production earlier this year, a designation which entitles him to the financial compensation that role yields.
As ABC News noted separately, when Rust production got underway once again, an attorney for the production company pledged that it would “continue to utilize union crew members” and “bar any use of working weapons and any form of ammunition.”
At the time the settlement agreement was first announced, Matthew Hutchins stated, “I have no interest in engaging in recriminations or attribution of blame (to the producers or Mr. Baldwin. All of us believe Halyna's death was a terrible accident.”
As the Post noted, despite Baldwin's continued public -- and highly controversial -- denials that he pulled the trigger of the antique weapon, an FBI forensics report ultimately determined that the revolver simply could not have been fired unless someone had indeed pulled the trigger.
In the wake of Hutchins' death, Baldwin as well as the armorer on the film set, Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, were charged with involuntary manslaughter, though firearms enhancement charges leveled against the two – which could have yielded five years in prison – were ultimately dropped in February, as ABC News further noted.
The case against Baldwin took another highly publicized turn in April, when criminal charges against the actor were dropped altogether, as NBC News reported.
Prosecutors in New Mexico announced that “new facts” had come to light that made proceeding in the case impossible, given that the information pointed to a need for additional forensic testing and investigation.
“Consequently, we cannot proceed under the current time constraints and on the facts and evidence turned over by law enforcement in its existing form,” the prosecution team explained. “We therefore will be dismissing the involuntary manslaughter charges against Mr. Baldwin to conduct further investigation.”
While the prosecutors were quick to assert that their decision did not “absolve Mr. Baldwin of criminal culpability,” and they indicated that charges could eventually be refiled, the actor's lawyers praised the outcome and expressed their hope that a “proper investigation into the facts and circumstances of this tragic accident” would take place.