- Hundreds of victims of the Las Vegas shooting are filing lawsuits against the operator of the hotel where the gunman was staying.
- The lawsuits argue that the hotel and its parent company should have taken greater security measures.
- If the victims win in court, it could change how hotels handle security.
Hundreds of victims of the Las Vegas shooting have filed lawsuits against the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino and its parent company MGM Resorts International.
Several lawsuits – the largest of which was filed on behalf of 450 people – attempt to hold MGM legally liable for the shooting, which killed 58 people and injured hundreds more. Victims are additionally suing the shooter Stephen Paddock’s estate and the concert organizer Live Nation Entertainment Inc. as well as, in some cases, the manufacturer of the bump stocks that allowed Paddock to fire as if he were using automatic weapons.
The crux of the lawsuits’ arguments is that MGM and the Mandalay Bay failed to take preventive measures that might have foiled the attack. Plaintiffs argue that staff members should have been better trained to spot red flags with Paddock.
Over the three days between when Paddock checked in to the hotel and fired from his window at a concert across the street, Paddock took at least 10 suitcases filled with firearms into his room. Police officials said Paddock also constructed an elaborate surveillance system in the hotel, placing two cameras in the hallway outside his suite - one on a service cart - as well as a camera in his door's peephole.
"The incident that took place on October 1st was a terrible tragedy perpetrated by an evil man," MGM said in a statement to Business Insider. "These kinds of lawsuits are not unexpected and we intend to defend ourselves against them. That said, out of respect for the victims, we will give our response through the appropriate legal channels."
New decision is ominous for Mandalay Bay
In October, the Nevada Supreme Court found that MGM could be held liable in a 2010 assault on a California couple at one of the company's hotels, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reported. The court ruled that the attack was "foreseeable" because there had been similar cases of violence at the hotel.
The question of whether the Las Vegas shooting was foreseeable is at the center of the Mandalay Bay lawsuits.
With several high-profile mass shootings having taken place in the US before the Las Vegas shooting, attorneys may argue that hotels and other venues should know to expand measures to try to prevent them, legal experts told Business Insider before any cases were filed.
"Foreseeability is one of the key components of liability," said Dick Hudak, a managing partner of Resort Security Consulting.
Heidi Li Feldman, a professor at Georgetown Law School, says it's "entirely feasible" that an attorney would make this argument based on the fact that mass shootings have taken place at other entertainment venues.
"If Congress isn't regulating gun ownership, it is going to be private parties ... who end up regulating their own premises," Feldman said.
The hotel industry has no national standards for security, and hotels aren't typically held accountable for guests' behavior. But if any of the hundreds of victims suing Mandalay Bay win their case, it could set a new precedent for the way hotels handle security.