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Could the "Rust" Victims Recover Damages in Colorado?

Posted on in Workplace Injury

CO injury lawyerOn October 21, tragedy struck the set of actor Alec Baldwin's movie “Rust” when a prop gun went off, killing cinematographer Halyna Hutchins and wounding director Joel Souza. Negligence-based lawsuits are expected to be filed on behalf of the victims, and Santa Fe County Prosecutors are investigating to determine whether criminal charges should be filed. The incident took place in New Mexico, and so will any resulting lawsuit. This blog will consider how the lawsuit may play out if the incident had occurred in Colorado.

How Did the Shooting Happen and How Does Colorado Law Apply?

Facts and details about how a live round found its way into what was supposed to be a “cold” prop gun are still emerging. Clearly, a lot of important industry safety protocols were missed somewhere along the line. Ammunition is generally forbidden on movie sets for this exact reason. Attorneys for the film’s armorer have stated that she did not know where the bullet came from, however, veteran armorers have stated in multiple interviews since the tragic event that the ultimate responsibility for all firearms and ammunition on a film set lies with the armorer.

There is also the issue of the assistant director admitting he failed to check the gun for ammunition when he called "cold gun" and handed the weapon to Baldwin during rehearsal because the armorer was nowhere to be found on set. According to production protocols, no one, including the assistant director, except for the armorer should ever pass a gun to an actor.

Under Colorado negligence law, a plaintiff must show that the defendant owed them a duty of care and then breached it by failing to use reasonable care. In this case, there were specific positions in the production crew whose responsibility was to maintain a safe environment on set.

While the police investigation will determine who may be criminally responsible for the shooting, civil liability addresses other issues. Courts will consider industry standards in deciding what “reasonable care” and a “reasonable person” look like. Some of the questions may be whether a reasonable props department would have used better care by following the industry standards of checking each chamber and keeping live ammunition off the set.

What ultimately happens in the lawsuit will depend heavily on the results of an intensive investigation. Film sets are full of complex moving parts, so it is likely that more than one thing had to go wrong and more than one person had to act carelessly for an accident like this to take place. Depending on the findings, Santa Fe County Prosecutors may file criminal charges. This would also affect the results of a civil lawsuit. Facts are still emerging, but based on what we know now, the victims would most likely be able to recover under Colorado law.

Call a Larimer County Personal Injury Attorney

Accidents do not need Hollywood flair to have a life-altering impact. If you were hurt in an accident due to another person’s negligence, Hoggatt Law Office, P.C. may be able to help you recover funds. Our experienced Fort Collins personal injury lawyers are dedicated to fighting for accident victims to receive full compensation for their injuries or their family member’s wrongful death. Call 970-225-2190 for a free consultation.

 

Source:

https://www.latimes.com/entertainment-arts/business/story/2021-10-24/alec-baldwin-prop-gun-shooting-legal-fallout

https://www.nytimes.com/2021/10/27/movies/rust-shooting-investigation-dave-halls.html

https://www.courts.state.co.us/userfiles/file/Court_Probation/Supreme_Court/Committees/Civil_Jury_Instructions_Committee/2018/Chapter%209.pdf

 

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