Mandalay Bay and concert promoter sued by hundreds of Las Vegas massacre survivors
Monday, November 20, 2017
by Matt Pearce | LATimes.com
Lawyers representing more than 450 victims of the Oct. 1 Las Vegas massacre filed multiple lawsuits Monday in Los Angeles County Superior Court, arguing that hotel and concert officials did not do enough to prevent a shooting that left 58 people dead.
More than 15 additional lawsuits have already been filed as victims seek financial compensation for the attack, in which more than 500 people were injured by gunshots or were trampled. Litigation could stretch for years.
The five new suits announced Monday focus on the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino, where gunman Stephen Paddock brought in weapons and opened fire at a crowd of concertgoers across the street, as well as its owner, MGM Resorts International. Paddock’s estate was also named as a defendant.
The complaints argue that the hotel's operators "breached their duty of reasonable care" by failing to notice that Paddock was amassing guns in his room and by not responding quickly enough when Paddock shot security guard Jesus Campos in the leg before the massacre began.
"There was a decision made not to make that phone call to 911 immediately," C. Chad Pinkerton, a Houston attorney, said at a news conference with other attorneys hosted at the Gipson Hoffman & Pancione law firm in Century City.
"My instinct tells me that's going to be because they wanted to control the environment and control the message before the public and the media was involved," Pinkerton said. "Certainly they didn't know they were going to have an evil act such as this, but they could have anticipated it, they could have foreseen it."
Also named as defendants: the operators of the nearby Route 91 Harvest Festival concert where Paddock aimed a stream of gunfire at more than 21,000 concertgoers. The event was promoted by LiveNation and guarded by security guards from Contemporary Services Corp. An MGM subsidiary owned the fairgrounds where the massacre happened.
"The incident that took place on Oct. 1 was a terrible tragedy perpetrated by an evil man," MGM Resorts International said in a statement. "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."
The other defendants did not respond to requests for comment Monday.
The victims' attorneys argued Monday that the festival did not have adequate exits or properly trained employees for when the crowd began trying to evacuate, resulting in additional injuries and exposure to the gunman's fire.
The plaintiffs were all attendees of the Route 91 concert, plus a few security guards working the event who decided to join the lawsuit.
Sixty-five percent of the attorneys' clients in the lawsuits filed Monday are from California, which the attorneys cited as a reason for filing the lawsuits in Los Angeles instead of Las Vegas. Some can't afford medical care for their injuries, which include gunshot wounds and post-traumatic stress disorder, Pinkerton said.
The plaintiffs include Paige Gasper, a psychology student at Sonoma State University who was shot under an arm and underwent treatment for fractured ribs and a lacerated liver. She is "doing better physically but has a long way to go psychologically and is starting to struggle," said Michelle Simpson Tuegel, a Waco, Texas, attorney. (Gasper originally filed suit in Nevada, but her attorneys decided to re-file the lawsuit in her home state of Florida.)
More than 30 of the plaintiffs were shot, and two were family members of victims who were killed. About 100 of the plaintiffs had trampling injuries and about 250 had post-traumatic stress disorder, the attorneys said.
Unlike other lawsuits, those filed Monday did not name any gun manufacturers or the makers of the "bump" stock accessories that Paddock used to make his semiautomatic rifles fire as rapidly as possible.
"Our focus in this case is not about gun control, because I think a lot of our clients feel strongly about their rights about gun ownership," said Muhammad S. Aziz, a Houston attorney. "It's about promoting security in the hospitality industry."
Matt Pearce is a national reporter for The Times. Follow him on Twitter at @mattdpearce.