MGM Resorts International is facing significant backlash after they filed massive federal lawsuits against more than 1,000 victims of last October’s shooting at an outdoor concert at the Mandalay Bay hotel in Las Vegas, which the company owns. Attorney Brian Claypool, who survived the shooting and represents other victims, discussed the shooting and the lawsuit on the Law&Crime Network on Wednesday.
First, Claypool described what it was like on October 1, 2017, when the attack took place.
“For a moment there, I thought it was gonna be the end of the world,” he recalled. “I fully expected to die during that first round of shots.”
Now, others who were traumatized by the day’s events have been served with a lawsuit meant to keep them from recovering damages from the hotel company. The lawsuit claims that the SAFETY Act of 2002 protects them from liability, because the security company they used was certified by the Department of Homeland Security.
Host Bob Bianchi noted that MGM’s lawsuit argues that their case is “in the best interest of the victims, the community, and those still healing,” because it would prevent lengthy litigation that they believe would not hold the hotel liable.
Claypool feels differently.
“What they’re doing, Bob, is reprehensible,” he said. “I’m wondering how far down the gutter they’re going to go and how low are they going to keep kicking victims of this shooting.”
Claypool said he and Las Vegas attorney Robert Eglet have only filed “a handful” of lawsuits, nevertheless, MGM “went out and got the names of about 2500 victims who they think are going to file lawsuits,” and brought federal court actions to try and get protection from liability.
“They’re retraumatizing every victim who was at that shooting,” he said, noting that the company even named dead people in the lawsuit.
“I have a client in Alaska whose son was killed,” Claypool said, “and she was in tears yesterday saying, ‘Has my son, who’s dead, been named in a lawsuit?’ And I had to tell her yes. They’re suing dead people too.”
Claypool noted that one reason why MGM Resorts’ lawsuit will fail is because the SAFETY Act only kicks in after acts of terrorism, and the shooting doesn’t qualify.
“Sheriff Lombardo in Las Vegas made it perfectly clear … that this was not an act of terrorism,” he said. “Guess what MGM? That’s gonna nip you in the bud.”
Even if a judge deemed the attack to be terrorism, Claypool said, MGM would still have to prove that the security company was “effective and had utility.” He said they would have trouble showing this was the case here, given the number of casualties.
Not only is the case bad for MGM Resorts from a legal standpoint, Claypool said, it’s a horrible public relations move.
“From a PR standpoint, this is a death sentence,” Claypool said. He noted that all MGM had to do was make the same argument in response to one of the state court cases that was brought against them. They didn’t have to file large-scale federal actions.
Claypool also noted the irony, as how during the NHL Stanley Cup Finals this year, which involved the Las Vegas Golden Knights, MGM honored several victims at the games.
“I wonder if MGM is now suing the same victims they honored,” he said.
Another survivor of the attack, Lisa Fine, appeared on the Law&Crime Network later in the day and had harsh words of her own for MGM Resorts.
“I never thought in a million years that MGM would stoop this low,” Fine said. “It’s like being revictimized.”
[Image via Law&Crime Network screengrab]