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Lawyer For Victims Being Sued By MGM Over Vegas Shooting Calls Suit 'Deplorable'

Crime scene tape surrounds the Mandalay Hotel after a gunman killed at 58 people and wounded more than 200 others when he opened fire on a country music concert in Las Vegas on Oct. 1, 2017.
Crime scene tape surrounds the Mandalay Hotel after a gunman killed at 58 people and wounded more than 200 others when he opened fire on a country music concert in Las Vegas on Oct. 1, 2017.

MGM Resorts International, the company that owns Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino in Las Vegas, has named victims of last year's music festival massacre as defendants in a lawsuit late last week. MGM is not seeking money from the victims, but is instead asking a court to declare that the company is not liable for the shooting at Route 91 Harvest music festival last October.

Stephen Paddock, the gunman, stayed at Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino and shot at concert-goers from a 32nd-floor window of the resort on Oct 1. 2017, killing 58 people and injuring hundreds more. In November 2017, hundreds of those victims filed a lawsuit against MGM and Live Nation, claiming negligence. Catherine Lombardo, one of the lawyers who represents some of the shooting victims who filed that suit, calls this new MGM suit deplorable.

"It's incomprehensible how they thought this was a good idea," Lombardo says.

The latest lawsuit tackles the question of whether or not MGM should be held accountable for the actions of a single hotel guest.

"MGM, who owns Mandalay Bay, is absolutely responsible, absolutely liable and negligent. MGM let the shooter come into their hotel," Lombardo says. "They had the valet guys unload his luggage."

Lombardo cites that since 2001, the Las Vegas casino industry has received active shooter training from the Department of Homeland Security, which is why they should have flagged Paddock's activity as a threat. "In that training they were told how to detect a potential active shooter," Lombardo says.

But MGM claims in their suit that that's the exact reason they should not be liable. In 2002, Congress passed the SAFETY Act for Liability Protection, which offers companies legal protection if they use anti-terrorist services approved by Homeland Security. But Lombardo argues that in this case, the SAFETY Act is being misinterpreted and misapplied because the shooting does not fit the definition of a terrorist attack. (According to the FBI, a terrorist attack is defined as the unlawful use of force and violence against persons or property to intimidate or coerce a government, the civilian population, or any segment thereof, in furtherance of political or social objectives.)

"The SAFETY Act was created for a terrorist attack," Lombardo says. "They will not be able to prove that the Safety Act applies here. It's just not appropriate and it's not going to hold up in court."

When NPR reached out to MGM for comment on the lawsuit, the company shared the following statement:

"From the day of this tragedy, we have focused on the recovery of those impacted by the despicable act of one evil individual. While we expected the litigation that followed, we also feel strongly that victims and the community should be able to recover and find resolution in a timely manner. Congress provided that the Federal Courts were the correct place for such litigation relating to incidents of mass violence like this one where security services approved by the Department of Homeland Security were provided. 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."

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Ari Shapiro has been one of the hosts of All Things Considered, NPR's award-winning afternoon newsmagazine, since 2015. During his first two years on the program, listenership to All Things Considered grew at an unprecedented rate, with more people tuning in during a typical quarter-hour than any other program on the radio.
Marc Rivers
[Copyright 2024 NPR]
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