Reports were released recently indicating that MGM Resorts International has filed lawsuits against the victims of the Las Vegas mass shooting. MGM Resorts International is the parent company of the Mandalay Bay resort, which sponsored the Harvest Festival where the shooting victims were found. They were shot from the window of a hotel room in the Mandalay Bay hotel.
After the shooting, a lawsuit was filed on behalf of the victims of the shooting and their families, claiming that the hotel was liable for failing to take adequate precaution to protect its guests and festival attendees.
The lawsuits filed by MGM do not seek any damages or financial reward from the victims. Instead, they seek a declaration from the court that MGM is not liable for what happened at the shooting. There are laws in the United States that prevent companies from being held liable if they take steps or measures to prevent terrorist activity. The MGM corporation is hoping that a U.S. Federal judge will agree that they took appropriate measures to avoid terrorism and thus are not liable for the actions of the shooter.
This lawsuit is misguided.
From a legal standpoint, the lawsuit suffers from some significant hurdles. These will have to be overcome in order for MGM to be successful in its bid to be excused from liability. The first of which is whether the U.S. legislation it is relying on is even applicable to the shooting.
The motivation for the Las Vegas shooting does not appear to fall into the legal definition of terrorism. There was no political or ideological motive apparent in the shooting, which is a necessary element for the legal definition of terrorism. Absent this, the shooting is merely a tragic mass murder likely triggered by a mental health issue. The jurisdiction of the U.S. Federal court over these claims is not engaged until it is proven that the act was a terrorist act.
The next significant hurdle, and perhaps the most pressing, is the public policy consideration. It sets a bad legal precedent for a court to rule that a corporation can sue victims of a mass murder, to protect itself from being sued. In court cases involving claims for recovery of civil damages, the liability of the party being sued is always an issue that the plaintiff has to prove. Why should a company be permitted to pre-emptively sue victims of an atrocious act, rather than raise the absence of liability in court?
If the victims' lawsuit goes to trial, the question of whether MGM Resorts could or should be held liable for the shooting will be a central feature. It does not therefore appear necessary to sue the victims for such a declaration. MGM claims that this will avoid drawn-out litigation in court and ultimately ease the suffering of victims.
Because what is more comforting after being the target of a mass shooting than to be sued? Human compassion appears to have completely gone out the window.
Even the judges of the U.S. Federal court have the humanity and good sense to see when a lawsuit is not in the public interest. The goal of these lawsuits appears to be more about exhausting the financial resources of the victims, who are now going to have to expend money to defend themselves, in a desperate attempt to avoid the potential pitfalls of a finding of liability in the victims' suits. Many of the victims do not or will not have the means to pay a lawyer to handle this type of a case, particularly where it will require special expertise.
But hey - it's a lot easier to bully people who did nothing other than show up for a music festival and get shot at than to use the multi-million dollar resources available to you to respond appropriately to a lawsuit.
MGM's decision to file this lawsuit is despicable, shameful, and smacks of corporate greed. Here's hoping the negative publicity and foolhardiness of their decision to file this claim is realized before any further steps are taken by the company to advance the case in court.
Vancouver Criminal Lawyer with a focus on impaired driving, marijuana legalization and related issues, and immediate roadside prohibition defence.