Outrage Grows As MGM Presses "Reprehensible", "Stunt" Lawsuit Against Shooting Victims

Survivors of the deadliest mass shooting in US history are expressing their outrage with MGM Resorts International after the company sued the surviving victims of the shooting, claiming it has "no liability of any kind" in the Oct. 1 massacre, USA Today reports. An MGM spokeswoman said the company has been "focused on the recovery of those impacted by the shooting" while also claiming that the attack was "unforeseeable."

"The unforeseeable events of October 1st affected thousands of people in Las Vegas and throughout North America," MGM Resorts spokeswoman Debra DeShong said in a statement. "From the day of this tragedy, we have focused on the recovery of those impacted by the despicable act of one evil individual."

Attorneys representing the victims said the lawsuit was "a stunt" that probably won't survive a challenge in court and accused the company of "blaming the victims." One lawyer said MGM's challenge was the most "reprehensible" action taken by a corporation to avoid paying damages that he's seen in his multi-decade career.

Brian Claypool, a survivor of the rampage who represents 75 survivors and victims' family members, called MGM's lawsuit "a stunt" that won't survive a court challenge.

"I am still in therapy once a week, and this is their way of trying to solve the problem," he said. "It’s shifting responsibility and minimizing their blatant negligence."

Robert Eglet, whose firm represents hundreds of people in the case, dismissed MGM's claim as "outrageous" and accused the company of trying to intimidate victims. Very few of his clients have filed suit and some never will, he said.

"In my 30 years of practice, this is the most reprehensible behavior I have ever seen a defendant engage in," Eglet said. "They are trying to victimize these people twice."

MGM is arguing that the security company it contracted with for the Harvest festival (MGM owns the lot across the street from the Mandalay Bay hotel and resort) took all the precautions required by the Department of Homeland Security. It has also argued that security staff in the hotel responded promptly and in accordance with post-9/11 protocols for mass casualty events.

MGM's lawsuit claims the case must be dealt with in federal court under terms of the post-9/11 Safety Act, which provides incentives for development and deployment of anti-terrorism technologies. The company says the security firm it contracted for the concert, CSC, was approved by the Department of Homeland Security, thus released from liability under the act.

But the victims' attorneys said these guidelines are irrelevant when it comes to the lawsuit.

"The Safety Act doesn't apply to them, it applies to CSC," Eglet said. "MGM has nothing to do with CSC."

Eglet said there was no reason to file the suit since the issue of jurisdiction is already being argued in court. He said MGM is "judge shopping."

"They are trying to find a judge they like," he said. "All they have done is cause a tremendous amount of stress, pouring gasoline on the fire."

Carl Tobias, a professor at the University of Richmond School of Law in Virginia, said the company may be able to convince a federal judge with its arguments, but that would come at a price.

Some expressed outrage at MGM on twitter. Others questioned whether security at Mandalay Bay, the hotel where the shooter carried out his deadly massacre, had been tightened after the incident.

Some even questioned whether it's time for an MGM boycott:

One lawyer said MGM should be spending money on beefing up security, not beefing up its legal team. But so far, at least, the boycott MGM movement hasn't found much traction and MGM appears to be weathering the controversy without too much backlash. But with the FBI's final investigative report expected by the one-year anniversary of the Oct. 1 attack, new information could still be released that could implicate the hotel, or vindicate it.

MGM

The deadly mass shooting was carried out by Stephen Paddock, a Vegas high roller who had recently lost millions of dollars gambling. After transporting an arsenal of weapons to his hotel suite and smashing open a window, he killed 58 people attending a country music festival across the street before shooting himself. To be sure, many mysteries remain about the hotel staff's initial response - but hopefully for the victims, the final report will provide some badly needed clarity.