MGM Resorts International has agreed to an $800 million settlement with more than 4,000 survivors of the 2017 massacre outside the Mandalay Bay casino. The settlement was announced after survivors joined friends and families of those killed at a commemoration ceremony marking the second anniversary of the massacre. An independent claims administrator will be appointed by a court to distribute money from a settlement fund. The payout process is expected to be completed by late 2020, lawyers said.
It was October 1, 2017, when a lone gunman named Stephen Paddock used semiautomatic rifles altered with bump stocks to open fire from the resort’s 32nd floor on a country music festival below, killing 58 people and wounding 851 others. Paddock, a reclusive 64-year-old gambler, sprayed bullets on a crowd of 22,000 concertgoers from the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino, which is owned and operated by MGM Resorts. He fired for between 10 to 15 minutes at the country music festival.
It remains the worst mass shooting in modern U.S. history. Lawyers representing survivors and victims’ wanted MGM held liable for negligence because the shooter was able to enter the hotel with luggage that held an arsenal of high-powered, assault-style weapons and thousands of rounds of ammunition. Paddock was found dead in his hotel room from a self-inflicted gunshot wound. Federal investigators have still not been able to identify a motive for the shooting.
Police found 23 guns inside his hotel suite and discovered that he had brought more than 10 suitcases to the room over several days, authorities said. Lawsuits filed since the shooting questioned how and why the hotel did not know he was hoarding high-powered weapons and ammunition in his hotel room in the days leading up to the attack. Attorney Jim Frantz, who represents nearly 200 survivors and the families of four victims, said the settlement “should be a message to all the other corporations and businesses around the country-that they need to step up their security.”
MGM Resorts International and attorneys for about 4,440 plaintiffs, said the final amount of money awarded will depend on the number of plaintiffs who choose to take part in the settlement. “While nothing will be able to bring back the lives lost or the undo the horrors so many suffered on this day, this settlement will provide fair compensation for thousands of victims and their families,” Robert Eglet, one of the lead lawyers for the plaintiffs, told reporters. Eglet called the settlement a “milestone in the recovery process for the victims of the horrifying events” of Oct. 1, 2017. Eglet and lawyers from two California firms represent about 2,500 plaintiffs.
In July 2018, MGM spurred outrage when it aggressively tried to avoid liability by filing federal lawsuits against more than 1,000 victims in a legal maneuver aimed at avoiding liability. In its civil actions, MGM claimed it did not have to pay damages to shooting victims because the company was protected by 2002 legislation, the Support Anti-Terrorism by Fostering Effective Technologies, or Safety Act. It protects corporations in the event of mass attacks committed on U.S. soil, provided services certified by the Department of Homeland Security were deployed. The company cited a federal law passed after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks that encouraged companies to deploy anti-terrorism security technology without fear of being held responsible for damages in the event of a terrorist attack.
MGM Resorts Chairman and CEO Jim Murren now says that “prolonged litigation around these matters is in no one’s best interest. It is our sincere hope that this agreement means that scenario will be avoided.” The deal is not an admission of any wrongdoing by MGM, Murren said in the statement