The corporate owner of the Mandalay Bay Hotel and Casino, the site of last fall’s deadly mass shooting in Las Vegas, has preemptively sued more than 1,000 victims of the atrocity in order to avoid financial liability.
In a suit filed in federal courts in Nevada and California, MGM Resorts International argues that it cannot be held responsible for the 58 deaths and hundreds of injuries that occurred on its property outside the hotel on October 1.
“Plaintiffs have no liability of any kind to defendants,” reads the complaint, which does not seek remuneration from victims but demands that their claims against the company “must be dismissed.”
Citing a federal law passed in 2002, the company claims that its acquisition of a security service that can “help prevent and respond to mass violence” absolves it of any responsibility.
Robert Eglet, who represents several shooting victims, cast the preemptive lawsuit as a blatant attempt to remove the case from state courts, where a costly and protracted legal battle was expected to play out.
The suit constitutes a “blatant display of judge shopping” that “quite frankly verges on unethical,” Eglet told the Las Vegas Review-Journal. “I’ve never seen a more outrageous thing, where they sue the victims in an effort to find a judge they like. It’s just really sad that they would stoop to this level.”
“The Federal Court is an appropriate venue for these cases and provides those affected with the opportunity for a timely resolution. Years of drawn out litigation and hearings are not in the best interest of victims, the community and those still healing,” MGM spokeswoman Debra DeShong said in a statement released Monday.
While the FBI has not ruled the Mandalay Bay shooting an act of “terrorism,” the relevant 2002 statute, passed in the wake of the World Trade Center attacks, defines terrorism as any action in the U.S. that causes “mass destruction, injury or other loss.”