The weirdness around the mass shooting at the Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas last year just got even more weird, not to mention infuriating.
It was recently announced that MGM Resorts is suing the victims who are themselves suing MGM for damages. That’s right, MGM Resorts is suing the victims and the families of those who died.
Of course, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that this has caused a huge PR backlash as this move by MGM Resorts is virtually without precedent in matters such as this. And it brings up the question as to why a company would choose to do this. Is is it simply because of money? Are they just trying to avoid a large settlement, or is there another reason?
First a little explanation of what MGM Resorts is trying to do legally by suing victims. The tactic is meant to have any future legal dealings held in federal court under a post 9-11 Safety Act. Under this law, MGM argues that because a security firm hired by them to watch over the concert was approved by Homeland Security under the Safety Act, that it exonerates them from liability as per the law. However, this needs to be argued under federal law, not in state court, which would normally be in Nevada. But if they can get it through, it would mean all civil suits would be thrown out.
One attorney for the victims Robert Eglet, claims the MGM legal team is doing nothing more than “judge shopping” which is the practice of finding a judge who you know will be favorable to your argument.
So this brings up the question, is MGM just being fiscally motivated in trying to get these suits thrown out. If this is is the case, they are taking a huge public relations hit. If they are successful at this tactic, the public relation hit will probably be even bigger. So as a company, is it worth potentially long term damage to your brand and future earnings to avoid a settlement now?
And how much would a settlement be? MGM Resorts surely had insurance to cover acts of terror, as most large tourists attractions do these days. So any settlement would be at least partially covered by insurance. The rest they could write down over a period of time so this settlement would hardly be catastrophic or even damaging to MGM resorts long term. It would only effect earnings in the short term.
So what is the real reason MGM would make a move that could tarnish their image for years? It is possible that the information that would come out during a trial would be much more damaging than a settlement or the bad press they are currently getting. It’s very possible there is much more to the Mandalay Bay shooting than anyone knows about. A drawn out legal case would lead to a discovery process where many details of the shooting would be made public. It’s very possible that MGM Resorts will do anything to avoid these details being made public through a trial.
Could it also be that certain information law enforcement knows needs to be kept hidden as well. During the weeks after the shooting, the police, the FBI, and the MGM all had different stories, but slowly over time they all corrected one another until they were on the same page, and the same narrative. As was reported, ISIS claimed responsibility for the attack just days afterwards, so possibly there is a terrorism connection they are trying to hide. So there is plenty that the Las Vegas Police, the FBI, and the MGM would much rather keep secret than be divulged in a trial.
At this point we will have to wait and see how this all plays out over the next few months. But if MGM Resorts is successful with this unprecedented legal tactic, it will mean open season on citizens of this country. If you are ever killed and your family tries to sue, they may end up getting sued before they ever find out any answers.