Mandalay Bay May Be Legally Liable for Personal Injury and Wrongful Death of Victims of the Deadliest Shooting in U.S. History
When a live shooter rained down bullets from a Mandalay Bay Hotel window on thousands of people gathered for an outdoor music festival on the Las Vegas Strip, the lives of thousands of individuals and hundreds of families were changed forever. The 58 people killed and the more than 500 wounded have been forced to endure an intense financial toll along with their physical and emotional pain.
Whether a victim suffered serious injury from gunfire or had his or her life cut short, medical bills, lengthy courses of rehabilitation, loss of household income, and other losses exert enormous hardships. Lawsuits arising out of the tragic rampage have already been filed against Mandalay Bay Hotel and its parent company MGM Resorts International. In this blog, we examine whether the Mandalay Bay Hotel could be found liable for the injuries suffered by victims of the mass shooting.
The liability of the hotel is particularly important because the shooter is no longer alive and would have lacked the financial resources to compensate the victims of the attack.
Nevada Premises Liability Law
The applicable duties and liability of owners of properties and businesses held open to the public falls under the auspices of premises liability law. The law is well settled that the owner of hotels, casinos, resorts, and other premises held open to the public have a legal duty to take reasonable care to protect guests and others legally on the premises from reasonably foreseeable dangers.
The Common Law Rule
The common law rule once provided that a property owner or occupier was not subject to a duty to protect people from the intentional criminal acts of third parties unless a special relationship existed between the premises owner and the injury victim. The most common example of this special relationship involved a person on the premises for the financial benefit of the property owner, referred to as an “invitee.” When this financial relationship exists between the parties, the property owner has a legal obligation to exercise reasonable care to discover that criminal activity has occurred or that such activity is likely to occur on the premises.
Courts in Nevada have established that the owners and operators of hotels, resorts, and other businesses held open to the public have a legal duty to protect their guests or others lawfully on the premises from foreseeable criminal acts. Property owners fulfill this duty by implementing adequate security measures. The precise nature of what constitutes “adequate” security measures will depend on the nature of the business and the physical layout of the premises.
Mandalay Bay’s Duty to Provide Adequate Security
Las Vegas Village, a 15-acre plot of land and open-air concert venue, and the Mandalay Bay located across from the concert venue are both owned by MGM International. While MGM and the Mandalay Bay might contend that it was not foreseeable that a mass murderer would convert a room on a high floor into a sniper’s nest to engage in the slaughter of a large number of people at the open-air concert below. However, there is a fair amount of evidence supporting the contention this attack was foreseeable.
The increasing number of terrorist attacks at music concerts, nightclubs, and entertainment venues across the U.S. and around the world have raised awareness of this type of act of violence. Highly publicized examples outside the U.S. include a terrorist attack at the Bataclan theater in Paris in 2015 that resulted in 90 deaths during the performance by an American rock band Eagles of Death Metal and a bombing at the Ariana Grande concert at Manchester Arena in England earlier this year that left 19 dead. In the U.S., 12 people were fatally gunned down and another 70 people injured during a mass shooting in a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado while 49 more people were killed and another 58 injured in a shooting in an Orlando, FL night club last year.
Precautions taken by Steve Wynn implemented nearly two-year prior to this incident also support the foreseeability of this tragedy. In a recent interview, Steve Wynn indicated he viewed Las Vegas as a target for terrorism and implemented numerous security measures after an extensive security review prior to the Mandalay Bay tragedy.
Mandalay Bay Security Efforts Appear to Fall Woefully Short
Given this attack was probably reasonably foreseeable, the security measures implemented by the hotel appear woefully inadequate, especially compared to competitors. The gunman managed to amass 23 guns, including AK-47- and AR-15 style rifles that were reportedly transferred up to the room in 10 separate suitcases. This massive cache of weapons carried in many suitcases could have been uncovered by metal detection devices at the entrances. Adequately trained staff and proper surveillance of the unusual activity of the gunman in bringing so many bags to his room also should have raised security concerns. Wynn properties installed metal detectors, which are not even visible, after their security evaluation approximately two years before this tragedy.
The shooter also reportedly engaged in other unusual behavior that should have raised red flags. He placed his room on “do not disturb” status for three days, but Wynn indicated this practice would have triggered a welfare check at one of his properties. Whether the room is checked because of concerns about the health of the guest or the safety of others, the lack of any check allowed three days for the gunman to prepare for his attack. The gunman also managed to install cameras in the hallway outside his room without the devices being noticed by security personnel or hotel surveillance cameras.
A jury would have other security deficiencies to consider, such as:
- Failure to equip the rooms with bulletproof glass
- Delays in breaching the door despite the fact a hotel security guard was shot between 6 to 10 minutes prior to the rampage
While many personal injury and wrongful death victims might have a strong claim to damages in the wake of this tragedy, the law imposes strict deadlines for bringing a legal claim. Generally, the statute of limitations for filing a personal injury or wrongful death lawsuit is two years, but calculating this period can be complicated. Since the failure to commence your lawsuit before the statute of limitation runs (expires) will almost always permanently bar a lawsuit, you should seek legal advice from Parker Waichman LLP promptly.
Legal Help For The Victims Of The Mandalay Bay Tragedy
If you, or someone you know, suffered personal injury, property damage, emotional distress, other loss, or death you may have valuable legal rights. Our firm offers free, no-obligation case evaluations. For more information, fill out our online form or call one of our experienced attorneys at 1-800-YOURLAWYER (1-800-968-7529).