Las Vegas mass shooting survivors are suing the hotel and concert organizers for negligence
At least two lawsuits have been filed by survivors of the mass shooting at a Las Vegas music concert earlier this month — signaling the possible start of other legal claims against the event organizers, the weapons’ manufacturers and the hotel where the gunman stayed.
In a suit filed Wednesday, 10 of the deadly rampage’s victims allege battery, assault and negligence, PEOPLE confirms.
They named as defendants MGM Resorts International, which owns the venue where the Route 91 Harvest festival was held, and its subsidiary Mandalay Corp., which owns the Mandalay Bay hotel where Stephen Paddock was staying when he fired down onto the event the night of Oct. 1.
The proposed class-action suit, filed in Los Angeles Superior Court, also named Live Nation Entertainment, which organized the festival, and the shooter’s estate.
In a separate claim, last week, 21-year-old Sonoma State University student Paige Gasper filed a suit echoing many of these claims against Mandalay Bay, MGM and Live Nation.
In addition, Gasper named Slide Fire Solutions, the maker of the bump-stock device the gunman used in his shooting, which allowed him to fire at a seemingly automatic rate.
In her suit, Gasper said she was struck by one of his bullets and later trampled by a crowd trying to flee the concert venue.
Authorities have said the gunman fired at the nearby crowd of some 22,000 people from his 32nd-floor hotel suite at the Mandalay Bay casino. He killed 58 people and injured hundreds of others, then shot himself before police arrived.
It was the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history.
Among the plaintiffs in Wednesday’s suit are Stephen Sambrano, a 36-year-old refinery operator from Riverside, California, who said he was shot while covering his wife. Sabrano’s friend Miguel Guerrero, a California Highway Patrol officer, was also hit, according to the suit.
The victims’ attorney, Catherine Lombardo, says her clients believe that, in death,
The lawsuit claims MGM missed numerous red flags and should have done more to prevent Paddock from opening fire and kept closer tabs on his suspicious activity after he checked into the hotel.
According to the Wednesday suit, Paddock had installed two cameras in the hallway outside his room and had allegedly brought in at least 10 suitcases filled with 23 firearms, including AR-15 style and AK-47 style rifles, between Sept. 30 and Oct. 1, the day of the shooting.
The suit also contends that Mandalay Bay failed to respond in a timely manner to the shooting of one of its security guards outside Paddock’s suite and should have been better prepared for such an attack.
The lawsuit also accuses the festival organizer, Live Nation, of being negligent and failing to provide an adequate exit plan and adequate security at the event.
Live Nation said it was unable to comment to PEOPLE about the pending lawsuits.
But they said in a statement they “continue to be devastated by the tragedy at the Route 91 Festival, heartbroken for the victims, their families and the countless people forever impacted by this senseless act of violence and are cooperating fully with the active FBI investigation.”
In a statement of its own, MGM said that, “out of respect for the victims, we are not going to try this case in the public domain and we will give our response through the appropriate legal channels.”
The company described the mass shooting as “a meticulously planned, evil senseless act.”
MGM said soon after the shooting that it would donate $3 million to the victims and their families and first-responder organizations.
Reached Wednesday, Gasper’s attorney did not immediately have a comment about her suit.
Messages seeking comment from Slide Fire Solutions were not returned. According to the New York Times, the Moran, Texas-based company has halted production following the shooting but has many local defenders.
“It’s being used as a scapegoat — they’re looking for somebody to blame,” one Moran politician told the Times. “Guns don’t kill people. Slide Fire stocks don’t kill people. … It could have been just as lethal, if not more so, with a good scope.”
Will These Suits Succeed? Experts Sound Off
How far these and other suits will make it in court remains unclear, legal experts tell PEOPLE.
“I don’t have the facts, but I can say if they [the concert attendees] were unable to find an exit to escape that suggests a problem and it is going to hinge on what the evidence shows,” says John Nockleby, a Loyola Law School professor.
Adam Winkler, a law professor at the University of California, Los Angeles, and author of Gunfight: The Battle Over the Right to Bear Arms in America, says plaintiffs will face an uphill battle.
Winkler says a lot will depend on whether the venue complied with existing state safety laws.
It might also be difficult to prove that a venue should have expected such a rampage, Winkler says.
Timothy D. Lytton, a law professor at Georgia State University, says he predicts there will be more lawsuits to come — though how many “will depend on how these initial lawsuits fare.”
Regardless, Nockleby says, these types of lawsuits against venues will become commonplace in the future.