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Mandalay Bay liability in Las Vegas shooting

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A
member of the FBI leaves the Mandalay Bay following the mass
shooting in Las Vegas, Nevada, on October 4,
2017.

REUTERS/Chris
Wattie


  • A 21-year-old victim of the Las
    Vegas shooting
    has filed a lawsuit against the Mandalay Bay
    Resort and Casin0, where the deadliest shooting in modern US
    history took place.
  • Legal experts say it’s almost certain that other
    victims of the Las Vegas shooting will attempt to hold the
    hotel liable in court.
  • Even if the hotel staff couldn’t have prevented the
    shooting, it could be used to argue that hotels need to take
    stronger measures to prevent mass shootings.

A
victim of the Las Vegas shooting
has filed a lawsuit against
the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casin0.

And, she likely won’t be the only one. 

On Monday, Paige Gasper
filed a lawsuit against the Mandalay Bay and MGM Resorts
International
, the hotel’s parent company.
The 21-year-old had been shot in the chest when Las Vegas
shooter Stephen Paddock opened fire on 22,000 people attending a
music festival, according to the complaint. 

Paddock stockpiled weapons in his hotel room before firing from
the windows of his suite on the 32nd floor into the crowd of
people across the street, killing 59 people and
wounding nearly 500 others.

Prior to Gasper filing the case, legal experts told
Business Insider that victims of the shooting will likely
bring lawsuits against MGM Resorts and the Mandalay Bay.
Plaintiffs will likely seek damages for things like medical
expenses or disabilities resulting from the shooting.

Gasper’s case provides a blueprint for other victims’ potential
arguments against the hotel. 




‘Negligent’ preventative measures


Paige Gasper
Paige Gasper in the
hospital, in a photo from her GoFundMe page.


Paige
Gasper



The crux of Gasper’s argument is that the company failed to
“maintain the Mandalay Bay premises in a reasonably safe
condition.” 

First, there’s an apparent lack of surveillance.
The plaintiff claims that the Mandalay Bay failed
to properly surveil guests and failed to monitor
premises using security cameras. Additionally, it argues the
Mandalay Bay “failed to adequately train and supervise
employees on the reporting and discovery of suspicious
individuals and/or person and/or activity.” 

From the moment Paddock arrived at the hotel, employees would
have been trained to report any suspicious behavior that they saw
from him, said Dick Hudak, a managing partner of Resort Security
Consulting. However, they seem to have missed a few potential red
flags. 


Las Vegas Mandalay Bay shooting
Armed
police officers take cover just outside the Mandalay Bay during
the shooting.

AP


In the days
 after Paddock checked into the hotel, he
brought at least 10 suitcases filled with firearms into his
room. Police officials said Paddock also constructed an
elaborate surveillance system in the hotel, placing two cameras
in the hallway outside his suite — one on a service cart — as
well as a camera in his door’s peephole.

The complaint highlights the Mandalay Bay’s failure to
notice or prevent Paddock’s weapon stockpiling and
surveillance cameras as two failures for which the hotel
should be held legally liable. 

“He gave [them] a clue there that something bad was going to
happen,” Hudak, a former FBI agent who was previously the
director of security at Sheraton, said of the cameras. The
Mandalay Bay’s employees “didn’t pick it up,” he added.

Finally, the complaint mentions that, according to law
enforcement officers, Mandalay Bay security
officer Jesus Campos was
shot by Paddock before Paddock began shooting out the
window.
 According to the complaint, the Mandalay Bay
failed to “timely respond or otherwise act” in response
to Campos’ shooting. 

“As evidenced by law enforcement briefings over the past week,
many facts are still unverified and continue to change as events
are under review,” MGM Resorts spokesperson Debra DeShong said in
a statement. “We cannot be certain about the most recent timeline
that has been communicated publicly, and we believe what is
currently being expressed may not be accurate.”

MGM Resorts, which operates the Mandalay Bay, declined to comment
on legal issues. 

Setting a precedent


mandalay bay windows las vegas shooting
Broken windows are seen on
the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casin0 after a lone
gunman opened fired on the Route 91 Harvest country music
festival on October 2, 2017 in Las Vegas,
Nevada.


David Becker/Getty
Images



If Gasper and other victims win their cases, it could help set a
precedent for what hotels are legally responsible to do to
ensure guests’ safety. 

As more mass shootings take place in the US, it’s increasingly
likely attorneys can argue that hotels and other venues should
see the potential for such a crime and make systematic changes to
prevent it.

“Foreseeability is one of the key components of liability,” Hudak
said.

Currently, the industry has no national standards for security,
and hotels aren’t typically held accountable for guests’
behavior.

Heidi Li Feldman, a professor at Georgetown Law School, says it’s
“entirely feasible” that an attorney would make this argument
based on the fact that mass shootings have taken place at other
entertainment venues.

“If Congress isn’t regulating gun ownership, it is going to be
private parties … who end up regulating their own premises,”
Feldman said.

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