The company that owns the Las Vegas hotel where a gunman opened fire last year has filed lawsuits against more than 1,000 people — including five Utahns — who survived the massacre, arguing that it has “no liability of any kind” for the attack.
The lawsuits, filed last week in federal court, come nine months after the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history. A gunman firing from the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino killed 58 people and wounded scores more. After shooting into the crowd at the Route 91 Harvest Music Festival for more than 10 minutes, police say, Stephen Paddock turned one of his guns on himself and pulled the trigger.
The impact of the Oct. 1 massacre has been staggering. Police say in addition to the 58 killed, more than 700 were injured, while countless others continue enduring psychological scars.
MGM Resorts International, which owns the Mandalay Bay, said its filings were intended to seek a “timely resolution” for people affected. The company filed one lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Nevada and another in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California. The complaints state they were filed against people who say they were injured and live in those states.
“From the day of this tragedy, we have focused on the recovery of those impacted by the despicable act of one evil individual,” Debra DeShong, spokesperson for MGM Resorts, said in a statement. “While we expected the litigation that followed, we also feel strongly that victims and the community should be able to recover and find resolution in a timely manner.”
The lawsuits are not seeking money but instead are asking courts to agree that under federal law, any claims from the rampage “must be dismissed.” The company’s argument is that it is shielded from lawsuits by a federal law known as the SAFETY Act, which was passed in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks and can limit liability after attacks. The new lawsuits ask the courts to declare that this law “precludes any finding of liability” against MGM.
The complaints state that “there is no pending litigation” between MGM and any of the defendants stemming from the attack.
According to MGM's lawsuits, more than 2,500 people have either sued MGM or have threatened to do so. The defendants are all people who have either filed a lawsuit or said they intend to file one, the lawsuits state. Some of the people sued by MGM have filed suits and then dismissed them with the intention of refiling, the lawsuit added.
Five of the defendants were listed in an action filed Tuesday in Utah’s federal court. Robert Eardley, of St. George, attended the concert with his boyfriend, 38-year-old Cameron Robinson; Robinson was killed in the shooting and Eardley was struck by shrapnel, family members have said. Laura Farthing, who lives in the Salt Lake City area, went to the music festival with three friends. When gunfire broke out, Farthing took refuge behind a bar but was struck in the leg by a bullet fragment. Sheila Keele, of Price, told FOX 13 News she went to the concert with a friend; they were trampled as the crowd tried to flee. Utahns Jen Holub and Kelli Sanchez also are named in the lawsuit.
Attorneys for some survivors of the massacre did not respond to requests for comment Tuesday.
Nearly a year after the rampage, some details about the shooting remain mysterious, while others continue to emerge. Police have said they do not know what could have motivated the gunman, who authorities say spent considerable time amassing weapons for the attack and also sought before his death “to thwart the eventual law enforcement investigation.”
In recent weeks, police have released several waves of documents, audio clips and video footage relating to the shooting, some of which have shed additional light on what unfolded that night. Police had resisted disclosing this material, but a judge ordered the releases.
The materials have included body camera footage from the first officers to enter the gunman’s suite as well as horrified accounts of the chaos and carnage from survivors and law enforcement officials.
Salt Lake Tribune reporter Erin Alberty contributed to this story.