LAS VEGAS, Nev. -- The MGM Grand Hotel has reached a $75 million out-of-court settlement in 450 damage suits filed on behalf of victims of the disastrous 1980 blaze that killed 85 people at the gambling resort.
The settlement announced Tuesday averted a trial scheduled to begin in Las Vegas this month.
U.S. District Judge Louis Bechtle approved the settlement entered into by MGM Grand Hotels Inc. and the Plaintiff's Legal Committee, a group of attorneys appointed by the federal court to combine the thousands of suits.
Bechtle, a Philadelphia judge assigned to handle the multi-district litigation which could have been one of the nation's largest, called the settlement 'fair, just and reasonable andhas been entered into by all litigants in good faith.'
The federal judge accepted the stipulated settlement and simultaneously vacated a Jan. 17, 1983, Las Vegas trial date. The case, however, continues in regard to 112 other defendants.
The MGM Grand Hotels Inc. and the Plaintiffs Legal Committee said they 'had reached agreement to settle all claims against the MGM Grand which were outstanding as of Nov. 22, 1982 filed by persons claiming personal injury, wrongful death, property damage and related claims' as a result of the Nov. 21, 1980, fire.
The settlement called for MGM Grand Hotels Inc. to pay $25 million upon execution of the settlement with the balance to be paid in two installments over a two-year period.
The settlement is subject to cancellation by the Plaintiffs Legal Committee if the committee can not conclude settlement 'with certain non-MGM defendants for additional money.' It also is subject to cancellation by MGM Grand Hotels Inc. if the PLC is unable to deliver releases from all the claimants by April 1, 1983.
Following the 1980 blaze, which forced closure of the MGM Grand Hotel while it was rennovated and rebuilt, lawsuits were filed in 35 federal jurisdictions in the United States against MGM Grand Hotels Inc.
In a move to simplify the complex and overlapping litigation, the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multi-District Litigation in Washington consolidated the lawsuits and transferred them to Las Vegas. The 10-member PLC has supervised ground rules for discovery and other complicated legal questions which arose.