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Halyna Hutchins' family to pursue 'Rust' consortium loss claims

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CBS News Los Angeles Live

The parents and sister of Halyna Hutchins, the cinematographer who was fatally shot when a prop gun wielded by Alec Baldwin discharged on the "Rust" movie set in New Mexico in 2021, say they will continue to pursue their claims for loss of consortium against some of the producers despite a judge's ruling Thursday expressing skepticism about their arguments.

Hutchins' mother, Olga Solovey; father, Anatolii Androsovych; and younger sister, Svetlana Zemko, sued in February 2023 in Los Angeles Superior Court. All three are Ukrainian citizens, living near Kiev. The suit was brought just months after a separate legal action filed by Hutchins' husband, Matthew Hutchins, was settled out of court for an undisclosed amount, with a stipulation that the filming of "Rust" would continue with the widower serving as a producer.

Attorneys for Baldwin and the "Rust" Producers argued that the loss of consortium claims as they pertain to the defendants cited in the motion should be dismissed. However, the Hutchins family attorneys maintained that New Mexico law "indisputably recognizes ... damages arising from the loss of a sufficiently close, mutually dependent and loving relationship between a parent and child and between sisters."

Unlike in California, New Mexico has "expressly rejected the notion that only those with special legal status ... such as spouses may recover consortium damages," according to the court papers of the family's lawyers, who further maintained the plaintiffs have properly alleged that the relationships between Halyna, her parents and her sister were the "kind of loving relationships infused with deep shared experience and mutual reliance that New Mexico recognizes as viable."

But on Thursday, Judge Rolf M. Treu disagreed with the plaintiffs' attorneys' interpretation of the New Mexico statutes.

"Applying New Mexico law, the court finds that Hutchins did not share a sufficiently close relationship with her parents or her siblings," Treu wrote.

But the judge gave the family 20 days to file an amended complaint and their attorneys released a statement after the ruling, calling it a win for their clients.

"Based on today's ruling, we embrace the opportunity to amend our complaint to provide more facts regarding the truth, that the relationships between Halyna and her family have always been the kind of sufficiently close and mutually beneficial relationships recognized under the law of New Mexico," the family's lawyers stated.

The 65-year-old Baldwin has repeatedly denied culpability in Hutchins' death, which occurred Oct. 21, 2021, inside a church building on the Western set of "Rust" outside Santa Fe. Baldwin was wielding a prop gun, helping set up camera angles for an upcoming scene, when the weapon discharged, killing Hutchins, 42, and wounding director Joel Souza, now 50.

The plaintiffs' attorneys maintain in their court papers that the "low-budget mold" of the film included hiring inexperienced crew members to manage the weapons that were to be used, noting that armorer Hannah Gutierrez- Reed was 24 years old at the time and had worked as an armorist on only one previous film. Gutierrez-Reed is now 26 and her trial on involuntary manslaughter and tampering with evidence charges began Thursday in Santa Fe.

Baldwin has insisted that he was told the gun wasn't loaded when it was handed to him. He also contends that while he pulled back the hammer of the weapon, he never pulled the trigger. The actor was initially charged along with Gutierrez last year, before the special prosecutors who took over the case dismissed his charges. Months later, a grand jury indicted him on involuntary manslaughter.

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