MGM Resorts has filed multiple lawsuits against victims of the Las Vegas mass shooting in hopes of avoiding liability for over 1,000 deaths and severe personal injuries, according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal.
More than 1,000 survivors of the mass shooting, joined by families who lost loved ones when 64-year-old Stephen Paddock opened fire on the Route 91 Harvest music festival, have filed suit against MGM, which owns both the Mandalay Bay hotel from which Paddock fired his shots and the Route 91 event venue. 58 were killed, and hundreds more suffered injuries.
But in a raft of new lawsuits filed against victims, the resort monolith argues that the personal injury claims against it “must be dismissed,” citing a 2002 federal law that provides a liability shield to companies that utilize “anti-terrorism” technology in an attempt to “help prevent and respond to mass violence.” MGM says it has “no liability of any kind” for the mass shooting.
MGM Resorts says Contemporary Services Corp, hired to provide security for the festival, was certified by the Department of Homeland Security as providing services intended for “protecting against and responding to acts of mass injury and destruction.”
The cases filed by MGM argue that Contemporary Services Corp’s legal shield should extend to cover MGM as well since MGM hired the company. Instead of demanding money from the victims, MGM’s wave of legal claims asks the court to determine whether or not the 2002 federal law applies in this case. If so, the suits request that the court bar future liability claims.
For Robert Eglet, a Las Vegas-based attorney representing some shooting victims, MGM is simply angling to have the liability cases moved into federal court. Most claims against MGM are currently pending in state court, but MGM filed its own lawsuits in federal courts in Nevada and California.
Eglet described MGM’s counter-suit effort as a “blatant display of judge shopping” that “quite frankly verges on unethical.” “I’ve never seen a more outrageous thing,” Eglet continued, “where they sue the victims in an effort to find a judge they like.”
In their own lawsuits, victims and their families say MGM acted negligently in preparing for the Route 91 Harvest festival. MGM Resorts is accused of having inadequate security policies and retaining poorly-trained staff to watch over the event.
The Las Vegas shooting has not yet been deemed an act of terrorism by the FBI because Paddock’s motives remain unclear. But the 2002 law to which MGM refers, the Support Anti-Terrorism by Fostering Effective Technologies Act, defines terrorism broadly as any illegal act committed inside the US that causes “mass destruction, injury or other loss.”
The Act was created to “ensure that the threat of liability does not deter potential manufacturers or sellers of effective anti-terrorism technologies from developing and commercializing technologies that could save lives,” according to the Department of Homeland Security.
MGM believes the federal court is “an appropriate venue” for the cases because, as company spokesperson Debra DeShong told the Las Vegas Review-Journal, it “provides those affected with the opportunity for a timely resolution […] Years of drawn out litigation and hearings are not in the best interest of victims, the community and those still healing,” she concluded.