The victims of the October 2017 shooting at the Route 91 Harvest festival outside Mandalay Bay casino in Las Vegas have been sued by the resort’s corporate owners.
The lawsuit against more than 1,000 victims claims that Mandalay Bay’s owners, MGM Resorts International, cannot be held liable for the mass killing, Fox News reported this week.
The company also owns the adjacent Route 91 Harvest festival venue where the shooting was carried out by Stephen Paddock, who killed 58 people and injured more than 800 others.
The organization’s lawsuit was filed in federal courts in Nevada and California. The complaint asserted that “plaintiffs have no liability of any kind to defendants,” and called for claims against Mandalay Bay to be dismissed.
MGM Resorts International is suing victims of last year’s shooting at the Mandalay Bay hotel and casino, to get a judge to declare they aren’t liable for deaths or injuries that took place. https://t.co/cVxb4oLa6f pic.twitter.com/vQVx9s8drp
— Law & Crime (@lawcrimenews) July 17, 2018
The claim points to a 2002 federal law affording liability protection to companies using “anti-terrorism” technology in an effort to “help prevent and respond to mass violence,” according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal.
It also claims the security company contracted for the Route 91 festival was certified by the Department of Homeland Security for “protecting against and responding to acts of mass injury and destruction,” and therefore protected from liability.
MGM Resorts argues that their hiring of the security company protects them from liability, as well.
Robert Eglet, a lawyer who represents numerous victims, said the hotel’s action is a “pre-emptive strike” taken to the federal level where it may have a better chance of success.
Eglet claimed the organization’s lawsuit shows a “blatant display of judge shopping” and “quite frankly verges on unethical.”
“I’ve never seen a more outrageous thing, where they sue the victims in an effort to find a judge they like,” he said. “It’s just really sad that they would stoop to this level.”
A spokesperson for MGM Resorts defended their decision to pursue litigation at the federal level: “The Federal Court is an appropriate venue for these cases and 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.”
After the shooting, MGM Resorts increased security measures. They implemented metal detectors and X-ray machines, among other measures. However, the detectors and machines were expected to be temporary due to the inconvenience on guests.
Legal experts said that hotels may be required to increase security measures to prevent mass shootings.
Heidi Li Feldman, professor at Georgetown Law School, told Fox: “It becomes more and more foreseeable if you operate certain types of venues, those venues will be seen as opportunities for mass shootings.”
Dick Hudak, managing partner of Resort Security consultant group, said that “foreseeability is one of the key components of liability.”
Just failing to increase security measures could mean hotels would be held liable.
After the shooting, many hotels increased their employee training programs to help employees identify potentially dangerous guests, and the protocol for handling those guests.