MGM International Resorts, the owners of Mandalay Bay and the Route 91 Harvest Festival venue, have filed a lawsuit against more than 1,000 victims of the Las Vegas shooting. The goal of their lawsuit is to avoid liability, the Las Vegas-Review Journal reported.
According to the lawsuit, MGM's security company, Contemporary Services Corp., was certified by the Department of Homeland Security for “protecting against and responding to acts of mass injury and destruction.”
A 2002 federal act, known as the SAFETY Act, extends liability protection to companies who use "anti-terrorism" technology and services that "prevent and respond to mass violence." Contemporary Services Corps. utilized those technologies, which allowed them to be certified by DHS. Having that certification removes security companies from being held liable should an incident like the Las Vegas shooting occur.
MGM argues that the liability protections extend to their company because they were the ones who hired Contemporary Services Corp. They cite the SAFETY Act as their cause for being protected from liability.
The purpose of the lawsuit is for a judge to decide if MGM falls under the SAFETY Act. If the judge rules in the company's favor, future civil lawsuits against MGM would not be viable.
“The Federal Court is an appropriate venue for these cases and provides those affected with the opportunity for a timely resolution. Years of drawn out litigation and hearings are not in the best interest of victims, the community and those still healing," Debra DeShong, a spokeswoman for MGM Resorts, said in a statement.
Robert Eglet, a Las Vegas attorney who has represented a handful of the festival's victims, said the lawsuit is outrageous and a "blatant display of judge shopping” that “quite frankly verges on unethical.”
“I’ve never seen a more outrageous thing, where they sue the victims in an effort to find a judge they like,” Eglet told the Las Vegas-Review Journal. “It’s just really sad that they would stoop to this level.”
The SAFETY Act was initially passed after the September 11th attacks. The private sector was concerned about being held liable for acts of terrorism.
The FBI has yet to define the Route 91 Harvest Festival shooting as an act of terrorism because the gunman's intentions were unclear. In order to have the terrorism designation, the act of terror has to be "associated with extremist ideologies of a political, religious, social, racial or environmental nature."