Hundreds of victims of the Oct. 1 shooting in Las Vegas filed five lawsuits in Los Angeles Superior Court on Monday.
The largest of the suits names 450 plaintiffs. Among those being sued are MGM Resorts International, owner of the Mandalay Bay resort; Live Nation, organizer of the country music festival at which 58 people were killed; and the estate of Stephen Paddock, the shooter.
The victims claim negligence by both MGM and Live Nation. They accuse MGM of not having adequate security policies, not properly training staff, not properly surveilling the premises, and failing to respond quickly when security guard Jesus Campos was shot. The suit alleges that Paddock’s VIP status as a high-stakes gambler gave him access to a service elevator at the Mandalay Bay, which he used to stockpile weapons and ammunition in the days before the shooting.
In Live Nation’s case, the plaintiffs say the company failed to provide enough exits or properly train employees “in case of a foreseeable event, such as a terrorist attack or other emergency.”
The shooter’s estate is being sued for assault, battery and intentional infliction of emotional distress.
The attorney heading the lawsuits, Muhammad Aziz, told Reuters that the cases were filed in California because most of the plaintiffs are from that state and received treatment there. He also noted that Live Nation is based in the state.
Last week, a different law firm filed 14 suits in Nevada court. In addition to MGM, Live Nation, and Paddock’s estate, these suits also name the manufacturers of the bump stock devices found in Paddock’s hotel suite. Attorneys for the plaintiffs argue that the shooting could have been stopped, and that the lawsuits are intended to prompt policy changes so it can’t happen again.
Similar to the California lawsuits, the suits filed in Nevada argue that MGM assisted Paddock in transporting his arsenal by giving him access to a service elevator not open to the public, and that the Mandalay Bay failed to adequately monitor the hotel premises, discover his weapons, have gunshot detection devices in hotel rooms, or have adequate procedures to handle an active shooter situation. The suit alleges that Live Nation failed to provide adequate exits or properly train staff to handle emergencies.
“The evidence we’ve seen thus far clearly indicates that the defendants were culpable in contributing to the 58 victims who lost their lives and the thousands more still suffering from severe injuries that will take years to overcome, if ever,” said attorney Antonio Romanucci in a press release. He is also lead counsel in lawsuits related to the 2016 shooting at Orlando’s Pulse nightclub.
Live Nation told NPR that it does not typically comment on ongoing litigation.
MGM wrote in a statement to NPR: “The incident that took place on October 1st was a terrible tragedy perpetrated by an evil man. These kinds of lawsuits are not unexpected and we intend to defend ourselves against them. That said, out of respect for the victims, we will give our response through the appropriate legal channels.”
It won’t be easy to prove the venues were negligent.
“One can’t blame the hotel for not predicting that this gunman would go up to their 32nd floor with an arsenal and break out the windows and start firing at people,” Tom Russell, a personal injury lawyer and law professor at the University of Denver told NPR’s Kirk Siegler. He said venues can also be victims, in the form of lost business or other harms.
As Kirk reported last month, victims sued the theater chain Cinemark after the 2012 Aurora, Colo., movie theater shooting. But the victims lost their suit, and were ordered to pay Cinemark’s legal fees. A legal expert also said that lawsuits against the gun industry tend to be unsuccessful.
“Laws like the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act passed as recently as 2005 broadly exempt the gun industry from any tort lawsuits when criminals use their products,” Kirk reported. “Meanwhile some victims, as in one motion already filed in Las Vegas, go after the gunman’s assets. But even if they win, there’s rarely enough money to go around.”
C. Chad Pinkerton, an attorney in the California suits, told the Associated Press that the shooting could have been avoided if officials had implemented safety recommendations and followed the weapons policies they had.
“We know in this day and age that evil does happen, and we have to protect against that,” he told the AP. “This was the largest venue security failure in U.S. history.”