MGM Resorts International has filed federal lawsuits against more than 1,000 victims and relatives of last October’s shooting rampage in Las Vegas in a bid to squelch liability claims against the hotel-casino giant.
MGM owns the Mandalay Bay resort, where shooter Stephen Paddock opened fire Oct. 1 on a crowd of thousands of concertgoers at the Route 91 Harvest Festival. The gunman killed 58 people and wounded more than 500 others. Paddock was found dead of a self-inflicted gunshot wound. It was the largest mass shooting in modern U.S. history.
The company’s lawsuits, filed in federal courts in Nevada and California, noted that more than 2,500 victims and related persons have either filed or threatened to file complaints against MGM, claiming negligence and responsibility for death, injury and emotional distress related to the massacre.
But MGM’s suits argue that those current and potential claims against the company must be dismissed because of a 2002 federal law that grants liability protection to any company that uses anti-terrorism technology.
MGM asserts that the security company hired for the festival, Contemporary Services, was protected from liability as it was certified by the Department of Homeland Security.
MGM said such protection extends to itself since it hired the security vendor. The named plaintiffs in MGM’s suits include MGM Resorts International, Mandalay Resort Group, Mandalay Bay, MGM Resorts Festival Grounds and MGM Resorts Venue Management.
“Years of drawn out litigation and hearings are not in the best interest of victims, the community, and those still healing,” MGM spokeswoman Debra DeShong said in statement released Monday about the suits.
The FBI has not labeled the shooting as an act of terrorism.
Las Vegas attorney Robert Eglet, who has represented several Route 91 victims, told the Las Vegas Review-Journal that the company’s decision to file in federal court was “unethical.”
“I’ve never seen a more outrageous thing, where they sue the victims in an effort to find a judge they like,” Eglet told the newspaper. “It’s just really sad that they would stoop to this level.”
The lawyer said that because MGM is based in Nevada, the lawsuit belongs in state court. Eglet called MGM’s use of federal court a “blatant display of judge shopping.”
Lawsuits filed by victims last November claimed that Paddock, who had VIP “exclusive access” within the hotel, was able to stockpile weapons via a private elevator.
Those suits also claimed weak video monitoring and a “do not disturb” sign prevented staffers from checking the room and preventing the shooter from opening fire.
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