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Las Vegas hotel denies liability for concert shooting

Posted On: Jul. 17, 2018 2:15 PM CST

Las Vegas hotel denies liability for concert shooting

The owner of the Las Vegas hotel where a gunman last year opened fire on a concert crowd killing 58 and wounding hundreds more has gone to court seeking a declaration that it is not liable for damages.

In a preemptive lawsuit filed in federal court on Friday against hundreds of victims of the attack, MGM Resorts International, which owns the Mandalay Bay resort, and its affiliates claim that liability for the attack is limited by the Support Anti-Terrorism by Fostering Effective Technologies Act of 2002.

The federal law, which was passed in the aftermath of 9/11 terrorist attacks, limits liability for terrorist attacks when qualified anti-terrorism technologies have be deployed. Shortly after the shooting, an FBI spokesman reportedly said at a news conference that there was no evidence indicating that the shooting was an act of terrorism. The FBI did not return a call seeking comment.

In a complaint filed in U.S. District Court for the Central District of California, Western Division in Los Angeles, the Las Vegas-based hospitality and entertainment company and its affiliates state that they “have no liability of any kind” to the victims of the mass attack at the Route 91 Harvest Festival.

Gunman Stephen Paddock opened fire on the concert from his hotel room 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay resort, killing 58 people and wounding hundreds of others before killing himself. The incident was the deadliest mass shooting by a lone gunman in U.S. history.

Security for the concert was provided by Contemporary Services Corp., the suit says.

In November, five lawsuits representing hundreds of victims of the shooting were filed in Los Angeles Superior Court. Several other lawsuits related to the shooting had been previously been filed, mostly in Nevada state court.

Each of the defendants in the MGM case has either previously filed and then dismissed a lawsuit, with the intent of refiling, against one or more of the MGM parties related to the shooting, the complaint said, or has said through counsel that they intend to sue, the MGM suit states.

The claims are subject to the SAFETY Act, the complaint says, because they arise from and relate to an act of mass violence meeting the law’s requirements; CSC provided security at the concert, deploying services certified by the Department of Homeland Security under the SAFETY Act to protect against or respond to such an attack; and the claims may result in loss to CSC as the “seller” of these services.

The SAFETY Act was passed in response to reluctance by private sector security companies to deploy security technologies in civilian settings due to liability concerns. Among other things, the law limits the liability of the sellers of security services to the amount of insurance that DHS determines it should buy, bars claims against downstream users of the security technology and requires that disputes over damages be heard in federal court.

“The SAFETY Act precludes any finding of liability against plaintiffs for any claim for injuries arising out of or related to Paddock’s mass attack,” the complaint said.

Craig Eiland, an Austin-based attorney who represents many of the victims named in the lawsuit, called MGM’s actions “outrageous.”

“It’s remarkable that MGM is trying to claim immunity for any of their negligent acts that occurred at their hotel and they were in completely in charge of security at their hotel and they’re somehow trying to latch on to the yellow t-shirt concert security company that has been certified under the SAFETY Act,” he said, adding that Mandalay Bay and MGM are not certified under the statute.

Mr. Eiland also said that everyone who he has spoken with about the shooting said they have no motive for that attack and that it was not a terrorist act.

“You’ve got people that were shot who are now being sued by MGM and Mandalay Bay,” he said. “This is the first time any entity has ever claimed immunity under the SAFETY Act in court. They are trying to beat victims to the courthouse so that MGM Mandalay Bay can choose federal court over state court.”

The Department of Homeland Security did not return a call for comment.