Several hundred victims of the Las Vegas mass shooting in October have taken legal action against the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino and its parent company, MGM Resorts International. They have filed lawsuits after claiming the hotel missed security warnings involving shooter Stephen Paddock.
As reported by Business Insider, several of the suits — the largest filed on behalf of 450 people — will seek to hold MGM legally liable for the shooting, in which 58 people were killed and hundreds more wounded.
In addition, victims of the most horrific domestic terrorist attack since 9/11 have also filed suit against Paddock’s estate and concert organizer Live Nation Entertainment, Inc., the organizer of a country music festival victims were attending at a venue across the street from the Mandalay Bay.
Also, suits have been filed against the maker of the bump stocks that Paddock used, allowing him to fire near-full-automatic with the semi-automatic rifles he used in his attack.
“The crux of the lawsuits’ arguments is that MGM and the Mandalay Bay failed to take preventive measures that might have foiled the attack. Plaintiffs argue that staff members should have been better trained to spot red flags with Paddock,” Business Insider reported.
Over the course of three days — between the time Paddock checked into his hotel room on the 32nd floor and when he began firing from windows he had broken out — he carried at least 10 suitcases filled with guns and ammunition into his room.
In addition, police say Paddock set up a comprehensive surveillance system in the hotel that included the placement of a pair of cameras in the hallway outside his hotel door in the hallway, one of which was placed on a room service cart, as well as a camera in the peephole of his door.
Last month the Nevada Supreme Court held that MGM could be held legally accountable for a 2010 assault on a couple in California at one of the company’s hotels, according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal.
The state’s high court ruled that the assault was “foreseeable” since there had been similar attacks before at the same hotel.
A central issue in the hundreds of Mandalay Bay suits is whether Paddock’s attack was also foreseeable.
Since several high-profile mass shootings had already taken place in other parts of the United States, lawyers involved in the suits may attempt to argue that hotels and additional venues should have expanded security measures in a way that may have prevented the Mandalay Bay attack, according to legal experts who spoke to Business Insider.
“Foreseeability is one of the key components of liability,” Dick Hudak, a managing partner at Resort security Consulting. (Related: Five things that just don’t add up about the Las Vegas mass shooting.)
Meanwhile, Heidi Li Feldman, a Georgetown Law School professor, told the site that it is “entirely feasible” a lawyer would make that argument since there have been mass shootings at other entertainment venues.
“If Congress isn’t regulating gun ownership, it is going to be private parties … who end up regulating their own premises,” Feldman said.
It’s difficult to see — absent specific behavior from Paddock that warranted extra scrutiny as he brought weapons to his room — how anyone could have predicted a gunman would knock out the windows of a major Vegas hotel venue and open fire with near-automatic weapons on a crowd of concert-goers down below.
In that same vein, it’s hard to imagine what kind of security — barring snipers or air support — the concert venue or the hotel could have implemented that would have stopped Paddock’s attack.
As for Congress “regulating” gun ownership, there is only so much the Legislative Branch can do, given the Second Amendment’s broad restrictions against denying Americans their “right to keep and bear arms.”
Finally, what if we find out it was really an act of terrorism? You can’t legislate or regulate that, nor can venues adequately prepare for it.
J.D. Heyes is also editor-in-chief of The National Sentinel.