MGM Resorts International filed complaints in Nevada and California courts seeking to move thousands of lawsuits brought against the company by victims of an October mass shooting at a Las Vegas music festival from state to federal court, stating it isn't liable for the shooting under a federal act. File Photo by Ronda Churchill/UPI | License Photo
July 17 (UPI) -- MGM Resorts International sued victims of a mass shooting at a Las Vegas music festival in an attempt to dismiss liability in any potential compensation claims.
The company, which owns the Mandalay Bay Hotel and Casino and the Route 91 Harvest festival venue where gunman Stephen Paddock killed 58 people and injured hundreds more, filed suits in Nevada and California federal courts on Friday. The company said it can't be found at fault for the shooting under the Support Anti-Terrorism by Fostering Effective Technologies, or SAFETY Act.
The SAFETY Act offers legal protections to corporations who adopt "anti-terrorism technology" in the event of a mass attack on U.S. soil. MGM said it complied with the act by hiring Contemporary Services Corporation, which had its services verified by the Department of Homeland Security, to provide security for the festival.
MGM named in the complaint hundreds of victims who have filed suits against the company and about 1,000 others who filed their intention to sue. The company seeks to have the cases moved from state court to federal court, where the company can utilize the liability protection under the SAFETY Act.
"The federal court is an appropriate venue for these cases and provides those affected with the opportunity for a timely resolution," MGM spokeswoman Debra DeShong said. "Years of drawn out litigation and hearings are not in the best interest of victims, the community and those still healing."
Attorney Robert Eglet, whose Las Vegas firm represents multiple victims of the shooting, said MGM's decision to file the suit was "reprehensible."
"They didn't have to take this overly aggressive outrageous situation where they're victimizing these people now twice," Eglet said. "This is the first time that we're aware of that anyone has raised the SAFETY Act and tried to basically get out of responsibility for their negligence by trying to use the SAFETY Act."
Eglet added the SAFETY Act is not intended to "give immunity to hotels for their negligence" and there were multiple indicators of Paddock's motives that security should have picked up on, including renting two rooms and carrying a large amount of luggage just for himself.
"There were so many signs of unusual behavior that anybody who had any alertness whatsoever would have picked on," he said. "They have the most extensive security in the world when it comes to watching their money, but the security of their guests is woefully lacking."