Let’s just say the optics of this are…not good. Per a report by the Las Vegas Review-Journal, MGM Resorts International has filed lawsuits in federal court against the victims of the tragic shooting at a concert outside Mandalay Bay in October. Yes, MGM, which owns Mandalay Bay and the Route 91 Harvest festival where the victims of the shooting were, is suing the victims.
Not that most of you require a refresher, but just in case, the Route 91 Harvest festival is an annual country music festival that takes place at a venue directly across the street from the Luxor and diagonally from Mandalay Bay. On October 1st, 2017, while about 22,000 were watching Jason Aldean perform, Stephen Paddock opened fire on the concert from a 32nd floor window at the Mandalay Bay. He let loose more than 1,100 rounds, killing 58 people and injuring 851, in the span of ten minutes.
Paddock was able to perpetrate the deadliest mass shooting in United States history in part because he was able to cart fourteen AR-15 rifles, eight AR-10 rifles, and more along with boatloads of ammunition up to his two adjoining rooms. Over the course of several days, he got all the weaponry upstairs with 22 suitcases, sometimes with hotel staff helping him.
As one might expect, many, many victims have sued MGM Resorts International for not taking better precautions to help prevent the murders.
What people didn’t expect, though, is that MGM would file lawsuits right back.
According to the Review-Journal, “The company cites a 2002 federal act that extends liability protection to any company that uses ‘anti-terrorism’ technology or services that can ‘help prevent and respond to mass violence.’”
The “company” in that quote is technically the security firm hired for the concert, Contemporary Services Corp. Its services have been certified by the Department of Homeland Security for “protecting against and responding to acts of mass injury and destruction.”
But since MGM hired Contemporary Services, MGM believes the 2002 act applies to it, as well. I suppose that does make some sense.
But what of these lawsuits MGM is filing? The Review-Journal says the purpose of the suits is to have a federal judge review the 2002 act and determine if it does, in fact, apply to MGM as the company believes it does. If it does, then MGM wants protection from future legal action.
Fortunately, it sounds like MGM isn’t actually trying to get money from any victims, just a shield from lawsuits. Obviously, one can argue how shitty MGM is acting either way.
In a statement, a spokesperson for MGM said, “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.”
The Review-Journal spoke with Robert Eglet, the attorney for some of the shooting victims, who calls this move a “blatant display of judge shopping.”
Eglet said that since MGM is based in Nevada, lawsuits should be in state court. By trying to move the venue to federal court, Eglet says, MGM is trying to find a sympathetic judge.
“It’s just really sad that they would stoop to this level,” he said.