Robert Eglet, who spent much of the last two years lambasting MGM Resorts International for its failure to prevent and its response to the Las Vegas shooting massacre, was effusive in his praise for the company Thursday morning at a news conference announcing the settlement of lawsuits on behalf of some 4,400 victims of the shooting. Gunman Stephen Paddock killed 58 people and injured hundreds more as he shot at the concert crowd across the street from his Mandalay Bay suite.
MGM is insured for $750 million of the payout, which is expected to total between $735 million and $800 million, depending on how many plaintiffs take part.
“This agreement with the plaintiffs’ counsel is a major step. It represents the resolution of the previously disclosed mediation efforts,” Eglet said at the news conference. “MGM believes and we agree that prolonged litigation around these matters is in no one’s best interest.”
“MGM’s stated goal from the outset of this litigation was to resolve these matters so that the community, the victims and their families can move forward in the healing process,” Eglet said of the company.
A year ago, Eglet blasted MGM for filing lawsuits against victims of the shooting in what the company called an effort to consolidate the actions. MGM also sought to avoid liability for the shooting via the Safety Act, a provision of federal law designed to protect vendors from liability for damage or injury resulting from acts of terrorism.
“Last year I was the loudest voice in the country saying negative things about MGM when they sued a number of victims in this case,” Eglet admitted, when questioned about his previous criticisms of the company. “I didn’t believe it. I was wrong. They proved that to me in the first weeks of this mediation.”
Eglet, who alleged in legal filings that MGM knew the risks posed by a shooting such as the one perpetrated by Paddock, says he believes the company has mitigated those risks, though he declined to say how.
“I’ll let the MGM talk about that. I think they will eventually,” Eglet said.
“We cannot discuss security specifics to ensure they remain as effective as possible,” MGM spokeswoman Debra DeShong said in an email. “We work closely with local, state and federal law enforcement and top experts in the country to constantly evolve our security procedures. As always, security is one of our top priorities and we remain focused on providing a safe and enjoyable guest experience for everyone.”
“They’ve made me the most loyal customer they’ll ever have,” Eglet said during his press conference. “If I have family and friends in town I’ll put them up at an MGM property every time. They have to me shown the most outstanding corporate citizenship I’ve ever witnessed.”
Eglet refused to say what share of the judgment will be paid to attorneys. Independent claims administrators will be appointed by the court to arrange a process for payment, he said.
Eglet suggested the best way to end the spate of mass shootings in America is to repeal the law that affords immunity to gun and ammunition manufacturers from civil claims of negligence.
The four leading candidates in the Democratic race for President — Joe Biden, Kamala Harris, Bernie Sanders, and Elizabeth Warren — all support repeal of the Protection of Lawful Commerce of Arms Act, which was passed in 2005.