The owners of a Las Vegas hotel where the deadliest mass shooting in modern US history took place have filed a lawsuit against victims of the massacre.
MGM Resorts International is pursuing cases in a number of states including Nevada, California and New York arguing it has “no liability of any kind” to survivors or relatives of those killed during a rampage last year by Stephen Paddock at the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino.
Paddock killed 58 people and wounded hundreds of others during the October 1, 2017, attack before shooting himself.
The company’s legal action challenges more than 1,000 people who accuse MGM of negligence in the attack, during which Paddock shot at attendees of the Route 91 Harvest Festival with automatic weapons from the hotel’s 32nd floor.
MGM said it was released from liability for the attack under a US law passed in the wake of 9/11 because the security firm it contracted to oversee the concert, Contemporary Services Corp (CSC), was certified by the Department of Homeland Security.
The 2002 Support Anti-Terrorism by Fostering Technologies (SAFETY) Act includes limits on liability for claims resulting from an act of terrorism and applies to a range of products, software and services.
While denying any liability for the attack, MGM claimed the cases brought forward by victims may have implicated CSC.
“If defendants were injured by Paddock’s assault, as they allege, they were inevitably injured both because Paddock fired from his window and because they remained in the line of fire at the concert. Such claims inevitably implicate security at the concert – and may result in loss to CSC,” the company’s lawsuits said.
Attorney Robert Eglet, representing a number of the victims pursuing cases against MGM, said CSC’s release under the act does not extend to the hotel group.
“In my 30 years of practice, this is the most reprehensible behaviour I have ever seen a defendant engage in,” Eglet told reporters, adding CSC failed to provide adequate security on the night of the shooting or in the days leading up to it.
“This is absolute gamesmanship. It’s outrageous. It’s just pouring gasoline on the fire of [the victims] suffering. They are very distraught, very upset over this. MGM is trying to intimidate them.”
James Service, CSC’s general counsel, told The Associated Press on Tuesday it doesn’t comment on litigation involving the company or a third party.
SOURCE: Al Jazeera and news agencies