MGM Resorts, which owns the Mandalay Bay Hotel and Casino and the Route 91 Harvest Festival, is suing victims of last October’s mass shooting.
The company, in a bid to avoid liability claims, has filed preemptive federal complaints against more than 1,000 people who were at the concert, saying it cannot be held liable for any deaths, injuries or other damages—and it’s asking the court to dismiss existing lawsuits.
Fifty-eight people were killed and hundreds were wounded on Oct. 1 when a gunman opened fire on the country music festival from the 32nd floor of Mandalay Bay. It was the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history.
MGM says a 2002 federal act, protecting companies that use “anti terrorism” technology or services from liability, shields them from legal action, since the security company they used at the festival had been certified by the Department of Homeland Security. It’s asking the judge to decide if that act is applicable. (The FBI has not labeled the October shooting as an act of terrorism because the gunman did not have a clear motive.)
“Plaintiffs have no liability of any kind to defendants,” MGM says in the suits.
While the complaints do not seek any money from the victims and are being filed as a way to protect the company’s investors, it’s still likely to be a PR black eye for the company.
MGM hopes to preempt that, saying in a statement it did this with the victims in mind.
“The unforeseeable events of October 1st affected thousands of people in Las Vegas and throughout North America,” said Debra DeShong, a spokeswoman for MGM Resorts. “From the day of this tragedy, we have focused on the recovery of those impacted by the despicable act of one evil individual. 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 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.”