On 13 July 2018, MGM Resorts International, the entertainment corporation that owns Mandalay Bay Hotel on the Las Vegas Strip, filed federal lawsuits in California and Nevada naming over a thousand victims of the 1 October 2017 Route 91 Harvest Festival concert mass shooting as defendants.
The lawsuits do not seek compensation from the victims. Instead, MGM argues that litigation should proceed at the federal level because under the Support Anti-Terrorism by Fostering Effective Technologies (SAFETY) Act, the massacre that killed 58 people and wounded roughly 500 was an act of terror. MGM maintains that by the terms of the SAFETY Act, the security firm hired for the concert, Department of Homeland Security-certified Contemporary Services Corporation, is the liable party and not MGM. Court documents note that the shooting victims named in the suit have either filed or have threatened to file lawsuits.
Robert Eglet, a Las Vegas attorney representing multiple shooting victims, blasted the lawsuit, saying it has caused survivors to relive the horror of that night. He also said state court in Nevada is the proper venue for litigation because MGM is incorporated there, and that the blame for the massacre lies not with the security firm hired for the concert grounds, but with lapses at the Mandalay Bay hotel where gunman Stephen Paddock fired down on the crowd from a room on the 32nd floor:
They are trying to escape responsibility for their woefully dysfunctional security at their hotel that allowed this to happen. This is like pouring gasoline on the fire that was already burning for these victims’ mental and physical suffering. Now they have to deal with this. Many of these victims aren’t represented by lawyers, so now they’re going to have to go out and get lawyers. [MGM] should be absolutely ashamed of themselves.
A representative for MGM described the lawsuits as procedural, with the goal of bringing litigation resulting from the mass shooting into the federal court system and expediting the process for quicker resolution. In a statement, MGM Resorts spokesperson Debra DeShong said of the lawsuit that:
The unforeseeable events of October 1st affected thousands of people in Las Vegas and throughout North America. 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.
Eglet accused MGM of “judge shopping” for a favorable courtroom and said some of the lawsuits that have been filed so far are already in federal court: “To suggest that MGM and Mandalay Bay are doing this in the interest of victims is a big fat lie. They don’t care about victims, they care about keeping their money. They’re trying every dirty trick in the book and they’re trying to intimidate these clients and it’s working on some of them.”
On 1 October 2017, Paddock broke his hotel room window and used it as a platform from which to open fire on the crowd of 20,000 people below. In the worst mass shooting in modern history, he killed 58 people and wounded hundreds more. Paddock took his own life when he was surrounded in his hotel suite by law enforcement. Investigators discovered he had amassed 23 firearms in his suite, barricaded the door leading from a stairwell to his room, and set up cameras so he could spot anyone approaching the suite.
The massacre resulted in a slew of conspiracy theories and hoaxes about non-existent second shooters and fantastical plots by a secret globalist cabal. To date, the investigation of the shooting has not yielded a clear motive. Federal authorities have not labeled the massacre an act of terror.