MGM Resorts sues victims of Las Vegas massacre, denies liability; lawyer calls action 'outrageous'

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MGM Resorts International, owner of the Las Vegas hotel from which Stephen Paddock fatally shot 58 people and wounded hundreds more at an outdoor concert, has filed suit against hundreds of the victims claiming the entertainment giant has "no liability of any kind."

The Oct. 1 rampage was the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history.

The federal lawsuit drew outrage on social media, but MGM said in a statement the filing was meant to "seek a timely resolution" for shooting victims who have sued the company since the attack during the Route 91 Harvest Festival. MGM adds, however, that litigation filed against it "must be dismissed."

“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."

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MGM 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 and thus released from liability under the act.

That release extends to the Mandalay Bay hotel, MGM says.

Carl Tobias, a professor at University of Richmond School of Law in Virginia, says the company may be able to convince a federal judge with its arguments. But he suggests it would come at a price.

"Even if MGM is successful, that may not outweigh the adverse publicity for the company that the suit generates," he told USA TODAY.

MGM has been a key litigation target in the case. Numerous lawyers in Las Vegas feature the shooting on their websites, some specifically calling out MGM.

"A gunman bringing more than two dozen firearms into a hotel room, including military-style assault weapons, is almost unthinkable," the Ladah law firm says on its website. "There are serious questions about the security procedures at the Mandalay Bay."

The write-up adds that "if you so much as take a casino chip off of a table you will no doubt be immediately surrounded by security guards; yet, nothing was done in this case."

Robert Eglet, whose own firm is representing several of the victims, dismissed MGM's claim as "outrageous" and possibly unethical. He described MGM's grounds for the litigation as "obscure" and told the Las Vegas Review-Journal that MGM is a Nevada company and said the case should be handled in state court.

Paddock fired more than 1,000 rounds from a 32nd-floor hotel room overlooking the concert. He was found dead of a self-inflicted gunshot wound in the room. 

Lawsuits filed in state court against MGM and the concert promoter have accused both of failing to provide adequate security. 

“I’ve never seen a more outrageous thing, where they sue the victims in an effort to find a judge they like,” Eglet said. “It’s just really sad that they would stoop to this level.”

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