MGM Resorts Multi-Victim Lawsuit Consolidation Push for Mandalay Bay Shooting Victims Denied by Judicial Panel

Posted on: October 4, 2018, 02:45h. 

Last updated on: October 4, 2018, 02:50h.

MGM Resorts won’t be bringing one consolidated lawsuit in front of one federal judge in the case of the individual civil suits the gaming operator has filed against more than 1,900 victims of the October 1, 2017 mass shooting from Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas.

MGM Resorts lawsuit Las Vegas shooting
MGM Resorts (seen here, company CEO Jim Murren) will have to face Las Vegas mass shooting survivors one at a time, now that a judicial panel has refused the gaming operator’s motion to consolidate all of the suits into one. (Image: Atlanta Business Chronicle/John Locher/AP/

The United States Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation ruled this week that MGM’s attempt to combine numerous lawsuits into one federal case will not be permitted.

On the basis of the papers filed and the hearing session held, we conclude that centralization will not serve the convenience of the parties and witnesses or further the just and efficient conduct of this litigation,” the DC panel concluded.

Amid strong public backlash towards the countersuit, MGM suits tried to clarify that the blanket action was in the best interest of the victims.

“To be perfectly clear: MGM Resorts is not suing victims for damages or attempting to extract monetary payment from the victims in any way,” CEO Jim Murren said after a deluge of outrage — and a call for a boycott of MGM properties — followed the company’s actions.

“More than 2,500 people have filed or threatened to file legal claims against MGM Resorts,” Murren explained. “If these cases proceed, victims, which include … first responders and witnesses, would face the need to testify over and over again, traveling throughout various court rooms across the US in trial after trial.”

Consolidation would have obviously been in the best financial and tactical interest of MGM itself, but almost no one else was convinced it was the right thing to do.

Panel Rejects Argument

Attorneys for MGM Resorts told the multidistrict legal panel that it has received pre-litigation letters “from at least 63 attorneys on behalf of 2,462 individuals.” The casino company revealed it expects to be named the defendant in as many as 22,000 lawsuits.

The multidistrict panel said in its ruling that “only 38 negligence actions have been filed to date, and 34 of those were voluntarily dismissed. This panel generally does not take into account the mere possibility of future filings when considering centralization.”

MGM Resorts said in response that it respects the panel’s decision and will defend the company’s actions in court.

Difficult Case

The victims who do bring lawsuits will have a difficult time proving MGM’s actions — or lack thereof — allowed the mass shooting that left 58 dead at the Route 91 Harvest music festival below Mandalay Bay’s 32nd floor window dead — and hundreds more injured — to occur.

Arguing that security shortcomings failed to foil shooter Stephen Paddock’s plan as he moved at least 10 suitcases packed with firearms and ammunition into his room over a three-day period will be tough, lawyers experienced in such litigation contend.

“Typically in the law, massacres like this are not foreseeable,” attorney and University of Houston professor Stephen Barth told Forbes in 2017. “Most jurisdictions don’t find [that] the intentional acts of a third party are foreseeable.”

However, Barth added, “You never know what a jury will do.”

Another potential protection for MGM is the federal SAFETY Act, which protects corporations from litigation in acts of terrorism. But the gaming operator’s claim for that protection is made through its use of a third-party organizer, which may not hold up in court. And although Paddock’s motive has yet to be determined, he had no known links to a terrorist organization, or any kind of religious or political idealogy.