MGM Resorts International reached a settlement Oct. 3 with the victims of the mass shooting in Las Vegas that killed 58 people and injured about 700 others, agreeing to pay up to $800 million to resolve claims filed in the aftermath of the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history.
The settlement, worth between $735 million and $800 million, was welcomed by MGM Resort officials and plaintiffs. Both sides have expressed a strong determination to move on from the mass shooting that occurred on Oct. 1, 2017.
On that day, a 64-year-old man described by others as a recluse and gambler opened fire on crowds of people attending the Route 91 Harvest Music Festival on the Las Vegas strip. The terrorist continued to spray the crowd with bullets for about 15 minutes from his room on the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino. Mandalay Bay is one of several Las Vegas casino resorts MGM owns.
In addition to the 58 people who lost their lives that evening, hundreds of others suffered debilitating gunshot wounds or injuries sustained as a panicked crowd of 22,000 people fled the concert grounds.
When law enforcement entered the gunman’s hotel suite, they found him dead of a self-inflicted gunshot wound along with 23 guns and a stockpile of ammunition. Authorities said that the man hauled the arsenal into his suite over the course of several days.
Shooting victims and their families levied negligent security claims against MGM Resorts in the months after the attack, questioning how the hotel failed to notice that the gunman was stockpiling assault weapons and ammo in his hotel room.
MGM has steadfastly rejected the negligence claims, even going so far as to sue the victims in multiple courts, seeking a declaration that it couldn’t be held liable for the deaths, injuries and other damages.
MGM argued in court documents last summer that courts have repeatedly rejected claims of negligence filed after mass shootings, finding there is no “premises liability” where a third party “carried out a cold, calculated plan of extreme lethal violence,” according to Insurance Journal.
The company’s lawsuits against the victims immediately triggered backlash, culminating in a call to boycott Mandalay Bay, Bellagio, Aria, MGM Grand, and other properties owned by MGM Resorts International.
It didn’t take long for MGM to change course and work with plaintiffs’ lawyers to achieve an outcome that was agreeable to all parties.
The company said in a May regulatory filing that it could pay as much as $800 million for lawsuits related to the mass shooting, including $751 million in insurance coverage.
“Our goal has always been to resolve these matters so our community and the victims and their families can move forward in the healing process,” said MGM Resorts chairman and CEO Jim Murren in a statement last week, according to PBS. “This agreement with the Plaintiffs’ Counsel is a major step, and one that we hoped for a long time would be possible.
“We have always believed that prolonged litigation around these matters is in no one’s best interest. It is our sincere hope that this agreement means that scenario will be avoided,” Mr. Murren added.
“While nothing will be able to bring back the lives lost or undo the horrors so many suffered on that day, this settlement will provide fair compensation for thousands of victims and their families,” a lead attorney for the plaintiffs said. “MGM Resorts is a valued member of the Las Vegas community and this settlement represents good corporate citizenship on their part. We believe that the terms of this settlement represent the best outcome for our clients and will provide the greatest good for those impacted by these events.”
The settlement underscores the stark reality of doing business in the U.S. in this era. Until the country can get a handle on the ever-growing epidemic of gun violence and mass shootings, lawsuits like those lodged against MGM could become a tragic but necessary fact of life.
That’s why it’s essential for businesses, event organizers, and others to do everything they can to ensure the safety and well being of their guests and patrons. In the words of one attorney who represented about 200 people affected by the Las Vegas shooting, the settlement “should be a message to all the other corporations, businesses around the country, that they step up their security.”
Beasley Allen lawyers handle cases involving issues of premises liability and negligent security. Premises liability is the responsibility a land or property owner has for accidents, injury or other incidents that occur on his real property. Negligent security is a related area of law wherein owners of establishments owe a duty to patrons and guests to ensure that the premises are reasonably safe and secure from anticipated dangers. These cases normally take the form of shootings, fights, stabbings, or other physical violence (including sexual assault) where severe injury or death occurs due to the establishment owner’s failure to take reasonable safety measures. For more information about these types of cases, contact Parker Miller, a lawyer in our Atlanta office.