The devastating attack left 58 people dead and nearly 500 injured. The owner of the hotel and concert operators have also been named in lawsuits recently filed. As questions of who is to blame for the most recent mass shooting, people have begun to blame gun manufactures and filed lawsuits to hold them accountable. Federal laws, however, have generally offered protection from such liability.
Bump stocks are legal and allow weapons to fire at a rapid rate, much faster than a human can pull the trigger. Inside Paddock’s hotel room were a dozen semi-automatic rifles that had been fitted with bump stocks. The attachment uses the gun’s natural recoil to bounce back and forth off of the shooter’s finger. Reports indicate that 100 rounds can be fired in just 7 seconds. The lawsuit claims that the manufacture of the device was negligent
In 2005, Congress passed The Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act which protected gun manufactures from civil claims that resulted from gun violence. This was the Law that a Connecticut judge used to dismiss lawsuits related to the Sandy Hook Elementary School mass shooting. There, family members pursued damages from the AR-15 manufacturer, Remington Arms.
Many of the lawsuits filed against MGM Resorts stem from the fact that no one at the hotel had realized that Paddock had brought numerous suitcases loaded with weapons and thousands of rounds of ammunition into his hotel room. Furthermore, there are allegations that the venue failed to maintain proper emergency exits and training for employees in the event of an emergency. The question facing MGM will be, “did they fail to provide a reasonable duty of care to the patrons and was this foreseeable?” Lawsuits from the mass shooting at the Pulse Nightclub in Orlando are still pending and have focused on these same issues.
While the gun debate has become a deep partisan issue, the laws limiting weapons manufacturers’ civil liability have generally been clear. However, changing public policy on many of the military grade weapons that were used in the attack, may pave the way for civil liability lawsuits. Gun manufactures continue to lobby Congress to prevent such changes to the law.