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Alec Baldwin argues he's not liable for Hutchins' death, in filing against producers

Lawyers for Alec Baldwin have filed an arbitration demand against the other producers of the film Rust, arguing that Baldwin's contract as a producer includes language that protects him from responsibility for any costs or claims against him. He also seeks coverage of his legal fees.

It's the latest turn in the legal case of who is responsible for the death of Halyna Hutchins, who was killed when Baldwin shot her during practice for a scene last October in New Mexico.

Baldwin's new legal filing seeks to "indemnify, defend, and hold harmless" the actor and his production company against any claims, damages or expenses, including his legal fees.

The document mentions what it says is a provision in Baldwin's contract for arbitration in the event of any controversies, claims or disputes. His contact also contains a broad indemnification clause holding Baldwin harmless against liability arising from the production's negligence, according to the filing.

Baldwin says he is not responsible for Hutchins' death because he did not know the gun contained live ammunition and because it was not his job to check the gun for live ammunition.

According to the filing, the film's armorer, Hannah Gutierrez Reed, told Baldwin that it was her job to check the gun. Further, it states that the actor "believed, based on prior gun safety training he received on movie sets, that actors should not unilaterally check guns for live ammunition. If actors want to check a gun for their own peace of mind, they should only check the gun with the armorer closely supervising the process. In other words, actors may jointly inspect a gun with the armorer, but never on their own."

Baldwin's attorneys argue in the filing that their client had no responsibility for what transpired: "[T]wo things are clear: someone is culpable for chambering the live round that led to this horrific tragedy, and it is someone other than Baldwin." The actor continues to be haunted by the tragedy, it adds.

The filing is the latest in a flurry of lawsuits between different parties related to the film. The family of Hutchins filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Baldwin and other Rust producers last month. That suit argues that Baldwin and the other producers "failed to perform industry standard safety checks and follow basic gun safety rules while using real guns to produce the movie Rust, with fatal consequences."

A crew member on the set has sued Baldwin, Gutierrez Reed and many others, alleging negligence that has caused him ongoing "severe emotional distress." Gutierrez Reed has filed a lawsuit against the company that provided the ammunition, arguing that the company delivered live rounds to the set instead of what were supposed to be only dummy rounds.

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Laurel Wamsley is a reporter for NPR's News Desk. She reports breaking news for NPR's digital coverage, newscasts, and news magazines, as well as occasional features. She was also the lead reporter for NPR's coverage of the 2019 Women's World Cup in France.