MGM sues Mandalay Bay shooting victims

The Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino. Photo credit: MGM Resorts

MGM Resorts has been served with hundreds of lawsuits following the shooting at the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino in Las Vegas in October 2017, and the organization is countersuing the victims in response.

The company has filed pre-emptive federal complaints against more than 1,000 people who were present during Route 91 Harvest Festival shooting as part of a strategy to shift liability. MGM is arguing that it cannot be liable for any deaths, injuries of other damages, and is calling for the court to dismiss the existing lawsuits it is currently facing.

The tragedy took place Oct. 1, 2017, when 58 people were killed and hundreds more were wounded after a gunman opened fire from the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino. It didn’t take long for the lawsuits to start coming in after rescue efforts concluded. Many of these suits claimed that MGM and Mandalay Bay failed to act on red flags raised by shooter Stephen Paddock, who managed to deliver at least 10 suitcases to his guestroom over a three-day period, each of which was filled with firearms and ammunition.

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Now, MGM is citing a 2002 federal act that protects companies that use “antiterrorism” technology or services from liability in the event of a disaster. Because the security company MGM employed had been certified by the Department of Homeland Security, MGM is asking a federal judge to determine whether or not the act applies to the shooting.

The act defines terrorism as any unlawful act taking place inside the United States that causes “mass destruction, injury or other loss.”

Determining whether or not this act applies to MGM may be difficult for a judge to reason, seeing as the FBI has not determined if the shooting was an act of terrorism, citing the gunman’s lack of a clear motive. Without the FBI’s determination, the judge will be forced to re-examine the case. However, MGM may be assisted by the act’s broad terminology and the reasoning behind its passage. 

MGM also has reason to try and fight back, considering a decision made in October 2017 by the Nevada Supreme Court finding the company liable for a 2010 assault on a California couple at one of its properties. The ruling called the attack “foreseeable” due to previous events at the property, and determined MGM failed to take prior events into account. The victims of the Mandalay Bay shooting are banking on a similar decision in state courts, specifically pointing to prior decisions. 

Beyond the FBI’s designation, one Las Vegas lawyer said MGM filed its lawsuit in an entirely wrong court. Robert Eglet, a Las Vegas-based lawyer for shooting victims, told the Las Vegas Review Journal that the suit was misfiled in federal court when it should be seen in a state court due to MGM’s Nevada-based incorporation. Eglet went on to accuse MGM of “judge shopping” through a countersuit.

“I’ve never seen a more outrageous thing, where they sue the victims in an effort to find a judge they like,” Eglet said in a statement. “It’s just really sad that they would stoop to this level.”

The case, MGM Resorts International Inc. v. Carlos Acosta, No. 18-cv-01288, U.S. District Court for Nevada, is drawing negative reactions across social media but a statement from MGM spokesperson Debra DeShong said the company is not suing victims monetarily, and offered sympathy.

“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," DeShong said in statement. 

MGM did not immediately respond when approached by Hotel Management for a comment.