MGM Resorts International sued the victims of a Las Vegas music festival mass shooting in an effort to block any potential compensation claims against it.
The owner of the Mandalay Bay hotel claims a 2002 federal statute wipes out liability for any company that adopts "anti-terrorism technology,'' which it says it did. It asked a federal judge in Nevada for a declaration that the company isn't liable.
After Stephen Paddock opened fire at festival goers from the Mandalay Bay hotel, killing 58 and wounding about 500, more than 2,500 individuals brought, or threatened to bring, lawsuits against MGM, the company said in its complaint, filed July 13 in Las Vegas federal court.
The casino operator argues that because it hired a company certified by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to provide security at the Route 91 Harvest Festival to "help prevent and respond to mass violence,'' it's not liable.
The law "precludes any finding against'' MGM and other defendants and bars victims from targeting the companies' insurance policies as well, according to the suit. Debra DeShong, an MGM spokeswoman, didn't immediately return a call or an email Tuesday for comment on the suit.
Robert Eglet, a Las Vegas-based lawyer for the shooting victims, told the Las Vegas Review Journal newspaper the suit targeting the 800 survivors of the mass shooting was misfiled in federal court. Since MGM is incorporated in Nevada, suits over the shooting must be heard in state court and the company's countersuit amounted to a "blatant display'' of judge shopping, he told the paper.
Las Vegas police commanders say Paddock shot festival goers from the windows he broke out of his 32nd-floor suite at the Mandalay. The room was filled with more than 20 automatic weapons. Paddock, 64, killed himself before authorities could capture him. His victims included a U.S. Navy sailor, a California firefighter and an off-duty Las Vegas police officer.
Police haven't identified Paddock's motive for opening fire on the crowd.