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Personal Injury & Medical Malpractice Blog

Monday, October 16, 2017

Liability for Mass Shootings

Should Mandalay Bay be held liable for victim injuries and deaths in the Las Vegas shooting?

On October 1, 2017, a gunman opened fire on a crowd of concertgoers, leaving 58 people dead and another 489 injured.  The shooting is regarded as the largest mass shooting in history and it is believed to have been carried out by a lone gunman.  Stephen Paddock of Mesquite, Nevada checked into the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino in Las Vegas three days before the shooting.  It was from the hotel that he opened fire on the unsuspecting crowd below.  Now, it is anticipated that some of the families of those killed in the shooting may file wrongful death lawsuits against Mandalay Bay, seeking to hold the resort liable for the tragic shooting.  Litigation stemming from this mass shooting could set important precedent concerning the ultimate liability for mass shootings.

Could Mandalay Bay Have Prevented the Shooting?

In the wake of the shocking Las Vegas mass shooting, all of the events that led up the shooting are being closely examined.  Investigators have revealed that Paddock stockpiled 23 weapons in his room in Mandalay Bay.  The sheer number of weapons brought into the room have caused speculation as to whether the hotel should have noticed potential warning signs and taken action.  

Security footage and interviews with hotel employees indicate that Paddock brought in at least 10 suitcases to his room, all of which were filled with firearms.  Paddock then constructed a surveillance system of the hotel.  He placed two cameras in the hallway outside of his room, including one in a service cart, and a camera on his door’s peephole.  Yet none of these suspicious behaviors were apparently detected by hotel staff.  This has left some questioning whether staff acted appropriately in failing to enter Paddock’s room during the three days or to uncover the cameras.

Even assuming the hotel could not have been expected to prevent the shooting with the evidence available to staff, the family members of those killed in the shooting could still have a potential cause of action.  Family members and injured victims could file suit against Mandalay Bay claiming that the hotel needed to take stronger security measures because such a shooting or act of terror was foreseeable.  Currently, there are no national standards for security in hotels and hotels have not traditionally been held accountable for guest behavior.  However, in a world where mass shootings are becoming increasingly common, courts may be willing to extend liability to hotels and other venues for acts of violence by patrons.  

Injured shooting victims and the families of those killed in the shooting could additionally file a civil suit against Paddock.  While such a suit will likely be successful, it is unlikely that Paddock’s estate will be able to cover the potentially millions in damages that Paddock inflicted.  Shooting victims should consult with a personal injury lawyer for a thorough assessment of their legal rights.


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