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  • Baldwin's Wrongful Death Settlement Invalid for Fraud After '...Facts Have Come to Light'?

    Baldwin’s Wrongful Death Settlement Invalid for Fraud After ‘…Facts Have Come to Light’?

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    Baldwin’s Wrongful Death Settlement Invalid for Fraud After ‘…Facts Have Come to Light’?

Yes. General settlements can be unwound if the evidence is concealed to try and settle. In this case, Alec Baldwin and Rust Movie Productions needed to avoid the possibility of litigating a wrongful death lawsuit by survivor Matthew Hutchins so Baldwin’s legal team could focus on placating District Attorney Mary Carmack-Altwies. The bullet killed Halyna Hutchins, 42, and wounded director Joel Souza. Matthew Hutchins, 39, and their son, Andros, 10, ultimately settled their lawsuit with the actor. Though he was charged with involuntary manslaughter, he maintained he didn’t know the prop gun was loaded and that it was faulty, and the charges were dropped. Now they are set to be refiled, reports NBC News, following tests on the weapon. (Source – BoingBoing.Net.)

I am Los Angeles personal injury attorney Michael Ehline. I am an inactive US Marine, small arms expert, and excessive use of force expert. When I first saw this case go down, I knew immediately that Baldwin was criminally and civilly liable with ZERO defenses I could understand. I presumed the civil settlement was Baldwin’s effort to mitigate the expected murder prosecution over Halyna’s final work on this earth. Like clockwork, the anti-Second Amendment, far-left actor and his production company were accused of using his far-left political connections to get the criminal charges tossed, and they were tossed.

However, as I also believed, Baldwin’s B.S. defense that he never pulled the trigger, or there was some hair-trigger modification, would never pass legal muster, and it didn’t. This is why I wrote this article. And I presume the Hutchins settled their wrongful death lawsuit based upon this blatant falsehood and the risks of losing a civil trial.

This article is not about the case filed by Gloria Alred on behalf of Ms. Hutchin’s parents, nor is it really about the entertainment community generally. My experience, knowledge, and skill in firearms and civil suits make me California’s pre-eminent shooting accident attorney. Let’s get into the facts and safety protocols as we pay tribute to Halyna Hutchins and further expose hothead movie actor Alec Baldwin.

Could Baldwin’s Wrongful Death Settlement be Unwound for Fraud?

For this tragic accident, absolutely. First of all, to understand, we must ask whether the evidence warrants criminal charges. Special prosecutors said Tuesday they are seeking to re-file criminal charges against actor Alec Baldwin for his role as the triggerman in the 2021 fatal shooting of Halyna Hutchins. Our viewers will recall Baldwin gunned her down on a Western movie set in New Mexico and blamed his grips, stagehands, and the gun for being modified.

The FBI concluded that the gun could not have been fired “without a pull of the trigger,” which contradicts Baldwin’s account of how he handled the weapon. (Source, USA Today.) Although assistant director David Halls, responsible for set safety, signed a guilty plea for negligent use of a deadly weapon since he “may” have mishandled the gun before giving it to Baldwin, I suspected this was an effort to protect Baldwin. In any event, Matthew Hutchins, the husband of deceased cinematographer Halyna Hutchins, entered into “The proposed settlement announced today in Matthew Hutchins’ wrongful death case against ‘Rust’ movie producers, including actor Alec Baldwin, in the death of Halyna Hutchins…” was approved by the court.

Expert Findings Change Everything?

New Mexico-based prosecutors Kari Morrissey and Jason Lewis said they’ll present evidence to a grand jury within the next two months, noting that “additional facts” have come to light in the shooting on the set of the film “Rust” that killed cinematographer Halyna Hutchins.

Baldwin, a film’s coproducer, pointed a gun at Hutchins during a rehearsal on the film’s set outside Santa Fe when the gun went off on Oct. 21, 2021, killing her and wounding director Joel Souza. “Additional facts have come to light that we believe show Mr. Baldwin has criminal culpability in the death of Halyna Hutchins and the shooting of Joel Souza,” Morrissey and Lewis said in an email.

“We believe the appropriate course of action is to permit a panel of New Mexico citizens to determine from here whether Mr. Baldwin should be held over for criminal trial.”

The Fraud on the Court?

Baldwin has said he pulled back the hammer — but didn’t pull the trigger — and the gun went off. “Unfortunately, a tragedy has been turned into this misguided prosecution. We will answer any charges in court,” attorneys Luke Nikas and Alex Spiro stated in an email regarding their representation of Baldwin.

In the initial stages, special prosecutors dismissed an involuntary manslaughter charge against Baldwin in April, citing information suggesting potential modifications to the gun before the shooting, which may have led to a malfunction. Subsequently, they reconsidered the possibility of refiling a charge against Baldwin after receiving a new gun analysis.

This recent analysis of the firearm, conducted by ballistics and forensic testing experts based in Arizona and New Mexico, involved using replacement parts to reconstruct the gun that Baldwin had discharged. This was necessitated by prior damage to the pistol during earlier testing conducted by the FBI.

As a general principle, the potential to challenge or unwind the terms of a confidential civil injury settlement due to fraud, misrepresentation, or false statements about how Hutchins was shot and killed by the defendant exists. However, the complexity of this process hinges on various factors, including the case’s unique circumstances and Santa Fe, New Mexico law.

How Are General Settlements Invalidated?

Here are some key points to consider:

Fraud or Misrepresentation

If Matthew Hutchins can demonstrate Baldwin and his co-conspirators engaged in fraudulent activity (provided false information or deliberately concealed essential facts during the settlement negotiations), this could form the framework to challenge the settlement.

  • Legal Recourse: Huthcins, as the injured party, would typically file a legal action to set aside the settlement with the court’s intervention.
  • The burden of Proof: Since Hutchins would seek to set aside the settlement, we would have the burden of proof that his settlement was based upon misleading statements or previously unknown evidence. He would need to show evidence of fraud or misrepresentation.
  • Court’s Discretion: The court would have to consider the evidence and circumstances surrounding the settlement to determine whether it should be set aside, considering the impact on justice and fairness in Santa Fe, N.M., and other jurisdictions.
  • Confidentiality Agreements: Confidentiality clauses are common in settlement agreements, and if the settlement is unwound, the confidentiality obligations could be affected. In other words, once you sign on the dotted line, it becomes exponentially more difficult when cases involve financial awards such as this one does. So, the ultimate decision will lie with the judge who approved the settlement, likely after having evidentiary hearings scheduled with Baldwin’s defense attorneys.

New Criminal Charges Show Evidence of Deceit in Original Dismissal?

The most recent expert report examined the gun and markings on the spent cartridge. They concluded the trigger must have been pulled or depressed, as I said the very next day after I saw this on CNN.

The analysis, conducted under the direction of Lucien Haag from Forensic Science Services in Arizona, determined that despite Baldwin’s repeated denial of pulling the trigger, the available tests, findings, and observations strongly suggest that the trigger must have been pulled or depressed with sufficient force to release the fully cocked or retracted hammer of the revolver in question.

Armorer Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, the weapons supervisor on the movie set, is facing charges of involuntary manslaughter and evidence tampering and has pleaded not guilty. Her trial is set to commence in February. In March, David Halls, the assistant director and safety coordinator for “Rust,” entered a no-contest plea for unsafe firearm handling, resulting in a suspended six-month probation sentence. Halls also agreed to cooperate in the investigation of the shooting incident.

The shooting that occurred in 2021 led to a series of civil lawsuits, primarily centered around allegations that the defendants failed to uphold adequate safety standards.

Assuming the judge and prosecutors refile criminal charges or not, Matthew Hutchins, Halyna’s family, and others involved in the settlement may be able to invalidate the same and move forward with their civil case, as discussed above. But there is more to the story.

Alec Baldwin Loses Another Court Battle Against His Crew?

Alec Baldwin’s legal challenges continue to persist. A New Mexico judge has denied the actor’s motion to dismiss a civil lawsuit filed by production crew members of the film “Rust,” as reported by Fox News. Judge Bryan Biedscheid also rejected Baldwin’s request to postpone the resolution of the civil suit until the completion of the criminal proceedings related to the matter, according to Fox.

The three plaintiffs in the civil lawsuit served as contractors on the set of “Rust.” They have accused Alec Baldwin and his company, El Dorado Pictures, of fostering an unsafe working environment during the film’s production in New Mexico.

The plaintiffs have alleged damages that include hearing loss, temporary deafness, and vibrational shock resulting from their experiences on the film. They have claimed that the production took shortcuts in terms of safety measures, highlighting a shooting schedule that was initially intended to last only 21 days.

Three Crew Members Say Baldwin Engaged in Unsafe Firearms Practices

“He did not request that anyone verify or demonstrate the revolver’s safety before this exchange.”

“And he did not ask to see whether ammunition was present inside the revolver’s chamber — despite his knowledge of the observable differences between a live and dummy round, and a loaded and unloaded chamber.”

“Instead, Defendant Baldwin accepted the revolver without any verification that it was a ‘cold gun.'”

Baldwin attorney Robert Schwartz asserted the court’s refusal to dismiss the suit is a “real injustice” and “unnecessary.” He said 16 months between the shooting and filing the case was untimely. I am not a New Mexico lawyer, so I don’t know what the statute of limitations was in that matter. Do you know? Send us an email.


We just discussed the potential new criminal charges against Actor Alec Baldwin over false statements about never pulling the trigger on the single-action revolver that killed Halyna Hutchins. The New Mexico special prosecutor, Kari Morrissey, mentioned no final decision had been made in refiling criminal charges against Baldwin. Still, based on our research, assuming Matthew Hutchins settled based on a false story that Baldwin never pulled the trigger, we believe the court could unwind the civil charge and allow the family to pursue their wrongful death lawsuit for more money, even if the original statute of limitations may have run against the lead actor. We want to hear what you think. Contact us for retractions or to help provide context with additional information.

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Michael Ehline

Michael Ehline is an inactive U.S. Marine and world-famous legal historian. Michael helped draft the Cruise Ship Safety Act and has won some of U.S. history’s largest motorcycle accident settlements. Together with his legal team, Michael and the Ehline Law Firm collect damages on behalf of clients. We pride ourselves on being available to answer your most pressing and difficult questions 24/7. We are proud sponsors of the Paul Ehline Memorial Motorcycle Ride and a Service Disabled Veteran Operated Business. (SDVOB.) We are ready to fight.