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It’s “a waiting game” when it comes to whether or not Alec Baldwin will see inside a courtroom regarding the wrongful death lawsuit he’s currently facing, legal experts say.
Baldwin, 63, and others were named in a wrongful death lawsuit filed Tuesday by the family of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins. Hutchins is dead on the set of “Rust” on October 21 after a gun Baldwin held unloaded.
Baldwin was named in the lawsuit because he is “inseparable” from the Hutchins shooting, Rachel Fiset, managing partner at Los Angeles-based law firm Zweiback, Fiset & Coleman, told Fox News Digital.
“Alec Baldwin is inseparable from this incident on the set of ‘Rust.’ , explained Fiset, who is not involved in the case. “In these roles, it’s almost inevitable that any negligence or recklessness shown on set will be linked to him – if not legally, then professionally and reputationally.”
ALEC BALDWIN’S LAWYER CALLS ACTOR WAS ‘IMPRESIDENTIAL’ ON ‘RUST’ SET ‘ENTIRELY WRONG’
The Hutchins family is suing for punitive damages, funeral and burial expenses, among other things to be determined in a trial. However, according to some legal experts, the wrongful death trial is unlikely to ever see a courtroom, as “most” civil cases are usually settled outside of a courthouse.
“It’s unlikely,” former federal prosecutor Neama Rahmani, who is also not involved in the case, told Fox News Digital. “One or 2% of [civil] cases go to trial.”
In addition to the civil cases that don’t really make it to court in general, the attorney said that specifically with respect to the ‘Rust’ lawsuit, he believes people ‘owning these types of assets’ will ‘pay to make it go away.”
Meanwhile, criminal defense attorney Duncan Levin – who is also not involved in the lawsuit – told Fox News Digital it was too early to say whether the lawsuit will be settled out of a room. of hearing.
“A large minority of cases go to trial,” Levin said. “Most settle, but at this stage it’s too early to tell. If charged and convicted of a crime, it’s much more likely that the case will settle, because losing a criminal case would mean that he would also lose a civil case.”
California-based criminal defense attorney Lara Yeretsian advised Baldwin’s lawyers to settle the lawsuit “quickly”.
“The best thing Alec Baldwin’s lawyers can do for him is get this thing over with very quickly,” Yeretsian, who is also not involved, told Fox News Digital. “After all, there is still an ongoing criminal investigation, and although it is highly unlikely, Alec Baldwin could still face criminal charges.”
The criminal investigation is still ongoing, with the most recent development being the recovery of Baldwin’s cellphone by the Santa Fe County Sheriff’s Department. The sheriff’s office had no comment on the wrongful death lawsuit when was reached by Fox News Digital.
“The investigation remains open and ongoing,” Juan Rios, spokesman for the sheriff’s office, said in a statement.
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Legal experts told Fox News Digital that the civil case will also “follow” the criminal case and will likely be “put on hold.”
“Everyone has a Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination, the right to remain silent,” Rahmani explained. “Thus, they do not have to sit for a deposition in a civil case until the prosecutor announces that there are no criminal charges or that charges are actually filed, a complaint or a indicted by a grand jury, and the criminal case ends.”
“It is likely that this civil suit will be stayed or suspended pending the criminal case.”
Yeretsian noted that Baldwin’s attorneys could ask that the civil case be “stayed,” but stressed that a “quick settlement” could benefit the actor.
“His attorneys may request that the civil proceedings be stayed pending the criminal investigation; however, Alec Baldwin’s public image would benefit from a speedy resolution,” she explained.
In the event that the lawsuit goes to trial, lawyers for the Hutchins family will try to shift as much blame as possible onto Baldwin, according to Rahmani. New Mexico is a “Third Liability State” and damages will be “divided” based on the percentage of fault.
“If someone is 10% responsible, he pays 10% of the damages,” he further explained.
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Baldwin’s attorneys denied the actor was “reckless” on the set of “Rust” in a statement shared with Fox News Digital on Tuesday.
“Everyone’s hearts and thoughts remain with Halyna’s family as they continue to deal with this untold tragedy,” attorney Aaron Dyer said on Baldwin’s behalf. “We continue to cooperate with authorities to determine how live ammunition arrived on the set of ‘Rust’ in the first place. Any claims that Alec was reckless are entirely false.”
“He, Halyna and the rest of the crew relied on the statement of the two professionals in charge of verifying the weapon that it was a ‘cold weapon’ – which means that there is no no possibility of discharge, blank or otherwise,” the statement continued.
“This protocol has worked on thousands of movies, with millions of dumps, because there has never been an incident on set where a live bullet has injured someone. Actors should be able to rely on gunsmiths and accessory service professionals, as well as assistant directors, rather than deciding for themselves when a firearm is safe to use,” he concluded.
Baldwin continues to make headlines as he returns to work and speaks publicly about his life amid the ongoing investigation.
“It’s a complicated situation, but we’re seeing prosecutors and investigators conducting a very thorough investigation despite all the media attention,” Levin told Fox News Digital. “At this point it’s just a waiting game to see what’s done.”
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