The tragedy of October 1 killings and injuries during a concert at the Mandalay Bay resort in Las Vegas was the worst mass shooting in U.S. history. The final toll was 58 people killed and more than 500 injured by shooter Stephen Paddock, who had barricaded himself in his 32nd-floor room with high-powered rifles and thousands of rounds of ammunition.
Now several months later, the New York Times reports that parent company MGM Resorts International has taken the unprecedented step of filing lawsuits against the victims and their families. All told, there are more than 1,000 people named in the suits, which lists anyone attempting to sue the company or have given notice that they intend to. Instead of seeking money, the company is taking this untested approach to shield itself from liability to pay damages to victims and their families.
Hotel negligence or terrorist attack?
The legal premise for this approach is a federal law Support Antiterrorism by Fostering Effective Technologies (known as the Safety Act), which was passed after the September 11 attacks. The law protects the product and services (including software, security teams, and sensors) if they fail to protect people during a terrorist attack, which is defined as causing mass destruction of institutions or individuals. The Department of Homeland Security has approved hundreds of companies for protection under the Safety Act.
The hotel’s premise is that (A) the security company hired for the concert the victims attended was approved by DHS, and (B) the shooting itself is an act of terrorism.
Conversely, negligence could be argued because there is substantial evidence caught on security cameras of Paddock bringing bag after bag of weapons and ammunition to his room. An active gambler who received many accommodations for his business, Paddock was also well known to staff and there was footage of him interacting and joking with hotel employees.
Case likely to have far-reaching consequences
Many have quickly regarded MGM’s suit with outrage. The hotel chain undoubtedly determined the loss of business for this tactic far outweighs paying millions to the victims and their families. Big business could also use this as a premise for protecting the company regardless of what the facts say under other circumstances.
Law firms with experience in personal injury and wrongful death can and will argue against these tactics to protect the rights of victims and their families. If you or a loved one is a victim in a tragedy caused by a company’s negligence, it will be helpful to speak with an attorney to get the settlement you deserve.