Defying every principle of tourism marketing honed over decades by the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority, transnational gaming giant MGM Resorts International is labeling the mass shooting on the Las Vegas Strip as terrorism.
As first reported by the Las Vegas Review Journal, MGM is suing more than a thousand concert attendees, some of whom were injured in the shooting.
“I’ve heard from many of my clients today who are dumbfounded,” says Las Vegas attorney Robert Eglet, who represents some concert attendees. “These people have already been victimized and are now being victimized again. Some are paraplegics. Some have brain injuries. Now they have to hire attorneys to defend them against MGM.”
The move, a legal necessity according to the MGM to ward off a spate of what the suit characterizes as misguided threats of lawsuits by victims, is sought to protect MGM from liability via the SAFETY Act, created by Congress to “prevent and respond to mass violence.”
MGM claims the SAFETY Act limits liability for the shooting to the security company on duty at the concert. The suit makes no mention of Mandalay Bay’s security, which failed to stop Stephen Paddock from hauling dozens of weapons and hundreds of rounds of ammunition into his hotel room.
MGM owns the Mandalay Bay as well as the grounds where the Route 91 concert took place.
The suit goes on to say the SAFETY Act applies to claims “arising out of, relating to, or resulting from an act of terrorism.”
“There is no requirement in the statute or regulations of an ideological motive or objective for the attack for it to meet the requirements of the SAFETY Act,” the suit maintains.
The SAFETY Act, according to a government website, “provides critical incentives for the development and deployment of anti-terrorism technologies by providing liability protections for providers of ‘qualified anti-terrorism technologies.’”
“I think it’s very ironic,” says attorney Robert Eglet of the terrorism claim. “When the shooting first happened they (Las Vegas officials) were afraid that it would be branded a terrorist attack.”
Tourism guru Billy Vassiliadis of R & R Partners, the man most responsible for the branding of Las Vegas, did not return a call from the Current.
The Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority issued a statement to the Current that failed to address how designating the event as terrorism would affect the Las Vegas brand.
Calls to MGM were also not returned.
Clark County Commissioner Steve Sisolak, who helped raise millions of dollars for victims of the shooting and coined the “1 October” moniker, issued a statement to the Current saying “I don’t know the specifics of the case so I can’t speak to that. 1 October was a horrific tragedy and I hope this situation gets resolved so that families and the community can heal.”
Sisolak declined to say if he thinks the terrorism designation will hurt the Las Vegas brand.
Eglet is accusing the MGM of judge shopping.
“I filed a case in June in state court and MGM moved it to federal court because of the SAFETY Act,” Eglet told the Current. “We have a motion pending before Judge Richard Boulware to remand to state court. MGM filed a motion a week ago asking for an extension, claiming they needed more time to research the applicability of the SAFETY Act, which was obviously not true because they filed this action. The remedy they seek here is exactly what Boulware is to decide.”
Eglet says he persuaded several potential clients to hold off on suing MGM in relation to the mass shooting.
“I wanted to give them time to recover, give the community time to heal. The statute of limitations doesn’t run out for more than a year.”