Disgust and anger underscored the words from survivors and families of the Las Vegas mass shooting victims during a press conference Monday as they responded to MGM Resorts International filing two lawsuits against the victims in an effort to shield the company from liability.
Filed Friday, the lawsuit named more than 1,000 defendants, many of them people who were wounded or otherwise injured during the rampage or are relatives of those who were killed. The entertainment giant is not seeking monetary damages but, citing a federal law, asks the courts to protect it from legal actions filed by the victims.
“To hear that MGM was suing my family, it forces me to relive all the pain and suffering all over again,” said Wayne Meyer, whose son Austin was one of the 58 killed in October. “I somehow feel like I’m back to square one, but it makes me mad. I’m disgusted … I’ve already lost my son and now they want to sue me. They want to take what little I have left and that makes me mad. It’s really hard. I think about my son every day.”
Joyce Shipp, whose daughter Laura was also one of those killed, said she was “so pissed” about the lawsuit.
“The fact that they’re trying to sue us now, or they are suing us, it’s outrageous,” she said. “I mean, who does that? Who does that? It’s like being kicked again to the ground.”
Jason McMillan, a Riverside County sheriff’s deputy, was shot and paralyzed during the shooting. During Monday’s press conference he expressed how he used to protect people from danger in his law enforcement duties during his four years as a deputy.
“I can’t do that anymore. I can’t go to work. I can’t do what I was doing before,” he said, adding that the thought that he’s now being sued is “insulting” and “absurd.”
“It enrages me that this company can just try to skip out on their responsibilities and liability for what happened,” McMillan said. “I just can’t believe the audacity of them. … I just want them to know that I’m not just a victim from the concert. I’m a survivor.”
The blame game
The October 1 shooting, which left hundreds injured and many more traumatized in addition to 58 dead, began when a heavily armed gunman later identified as Stephen Paddock smashed windows in his Mandalay Bay suite on the 32nd floor and rained bullets down on thousands of concertgoers at the Route 91 Harvest Festival across the street. Police said the gunman then fatally shot himself.
Since the attack, more than 2,500 people have brought lawsuits or threatened to file lawsuits against MGM Resorts International and its subsidiaries, according to MGM. Mandalay Bay and the Las Vegas Village, the site of the festival, are owned by corporations whose parent company is MGM Resorts International.
The resort company’s lawsuits in Nevada and California name more than 1,000 such victims as defendants, many of whom had filed lawsuits that were voluntarily dismissed, apparently with the intent of refiling them later.
In a statement to CNN, MGM Resorts called the shooting “the despicable act of one evil individual” and said its lawsuits, filed Friday in US District Courts for Nevada and Central California, are intended to benefit the victims and help them heal.
MGM hired a vendor, Contemporary Services Corp., to provide security for the event. By hiring CSC, whose services the Department of Homeland Security has approved “for protecting against and responding to acts of mass injury and destruction,” MGM is claiming it is absolved from responsibility in the shooting.
“Defendants’ actual and threatened lawsuits implicate the services provided by CSC because they implicate security at the concert, including training, emergency response, evacuation and adequacy of egress,” the lawsuits say.
That sentence is important because MGM hopes a judge will agree that a 2002 law called the Support Anti-Terrorism by Fostering Technologies Act, or SAFETY Act, shields the hotel and concert venue owner from liability, putting it instead on CSC.