The company is not seeking any financial damages but is seeking to have the matter settled in the Federal court system in a move described as "reprehensible" by the victims' legal representatives.
The victims were among the hundreds injured in the 2017 mass shooting perpetrated on festival-goers from the Mandalay Bay Hotel, Las Vegas, which is owned by MGM. 59 people were killed in the attack which was the deadliest mass shooting carried out by an individual in the US.
MGM Resorts International filed the complaints in Nevada and California federal courts. The action relies on a 2002 federal act, the Support Anti-Terrorism by Fostering Effective Technologies Act, commonly known as the Safety Act.
MGM Resorts International sues hundreds of Las Vegas shooting victims to try to avoid liability for deaths and injuries after a gunman opened fire from its resort. https://t.co/cZIWavHVY6
— AP West Region (@APWestRegion) July 17, 2018
“The plaintiffs have no liability of any kind to defendants,” the complaints argue.
MGM seeking to avoid liability and move cases to a more favourable jurisdiction
The Safety Act was drafted to protect corporations in the event of a terrorist act on the proviso that services certified by the Department of Homeland Security were in place. It was designed to give assurance to companies in the wake of the September 11 attacks.
MGM’s argument is that it hired a security vendor whose services had been certified in accordance with the legislation. This would mean it had followed the requirements of the Safety Act and the correct jurisdiction would be the federal court, where MGM has liability protection under the act.
So @MGMResortsIntl you're suing 1,000+ victims of the Las Vegas mass shooting? Don't worry, this definitely doesn't make you look like a bunch of contemptible heartless crapmasters. https://t.co/hfOJ2Pc2f9
— Shannon Coulter (@shannoncoulter) July 17, 2018
I had to read this 4 times before it sunk in that MGM Resorts was suing 1,000 victims of gun violence in an effort to "judge shop" and drag out the process as long as possible, hoping for attrition. Assholes.#TuesdayThoughts#TuesdayMotivationhttps://t.co/iVAZw94Y2G
— Holly Figueroa O'Reilly 🌊 BWCS (@AynRandPaulRyan) July 17, 2018
The legal action also seeks to streamline the hundreds of individuals who have brought, or intend to bring, lawsuits against MGM. Some victims have already taken legal action against both MGM and festival promoter Live Nation for failing to provide adequate security.
The aggressive legal strategy is both untested and risks creating a public relations disaster for the company.
MGM Resorts International has filed federal lawsuits against more than 1,000 victims and relatives of last October's shooting rampage in Las Vegas in a bid to squelch liability claims against the hotel-casino giant. https://t.co/SqSLuIEP9z
— CNBC (@CNBC) July 17, 2018
Victims’ legal representatives outraged
Robert Eglet, a Las Vegas attorney whose firm is representing some of the shooting victims, said the legal action was “reprehensible”.
“They didn’t have to take this overly aggressive outrageous situation where they’re victimising these people now twice,” he said.
He also said he did not know of any other examples of a party raising the Safety Act to evade responsibility for its negligence.
“We are shocked,” said Catherine Lombardo, another attorney who is representing hundreds of victims. She said that MGM is “absolutely liable”.
“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 move has also been met with disbelief on social media.