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Lawsuits Filed In Wake Of Las Vegas Shootings

Unfortunately, a multitude of civil suits are filed after a national tragedy. As has been the case with past incidents, such as the Boston Marathon bombing, lawsuits are beginning to emerge in the wake of the recent mass shooting in Las Vegas, which led to 58 casualties and left over 500 injured.

The Tragedy

On October 1, Stephen Paddock fired upon concert-goers at the Route 91 Harvest Festival from the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay hotel. Paddock used high-powered assault rifles that had been modified with “bump stocks.” To date, it was the deadliest mass shooting in United States history.

Those involved – from the victims and their families to the first responders – now face a long road to recovery. Many must endure painful physical therapy to overcome severe injuries, while others must deal with psychological injuries, including post-traumatic stress and coping with the loss of a loved one.

Personal Injury Suits

One of the main target defendants of lawsuits filed by the victims is the Mandalay Bay hotel, where Paddock set up his arsenal, in addition to the hotel’s owners, MGM Resorts. At least one lawsuit has been filed against Mandalay Bay by Paige Gasper, a 21-year-old California woman who was injured in the shooting.

One of the primary questions that needs answering is how Paddock managed to carry over ten bags of weapons and ammunition into his 32nd-floor room. The fact that the hotel did not screen these bags could make for an important negligence case.

However, based on previous cases, the victims will have a hard time proving the hotel responsible. Colorado personal injury lawyer Tom Russell said, “One would have to show that the hotel had knowledge about this of some sort, and they disregarded it…one can’t blame the hotel for not predicting that this gunman would go up to their 32nd floor with an arsenal and break out the windows and start firing at people.”

Victims are also suing Live Nation, the concert organizer, who failed to “design, build, and mark adequate exits in case of emergency” and “properly train and supervise employees in an appropriate plan of action in case of emergency.” The argument could also be made that the company was negligent by choosing a venue in the middle of many high-rise buildings.

The Bump Stock

Paddock fixed a “bump stock” device onto his semiautomatic weapons. The device maximizes the gun’s recoil, to make it act more like an automatic weapon. As a result, the weapon fires faster which, in theory, allowed Paddock to inflict more harm. The device is manufactured by Slide Fire Solutions. Since the revelation that Paddock used a bump stock, Slide Fire has been served numerous lawsuits from the victims of the shooting.

A class action lawsuit is defined as “one in which a group of people with the same or similar injuries caused by the same product or action sue the defendant as a group. Obviously, a tragedy like this one opens the door for victims to file class action lawsuits together. A class action suit was filed in Clark County, Nevada soon after the tragedy. Slide Fire was one of multiple manufacturers named as defendants, who were accused of negligence that led to “the infliction of emotional distress on thousands of people who witnessed or were injured in the October 1 shooting at a Las Vegas music festival.” The suit stated, “The damage caused to plaintiffs resulted from the military-style arsenal that defendants manufactured, marketed, and sold to the general public, without any reasonable measures or safeguards, and which the killer foreseeably used to see horrific results.” The plaintiffs are unspecified punitive damages and a psychological program to monitor all those affected by the tragedy.

It will be interesting to see the results of the lawsuits in which Slide Fire is a defendant. Federal laws protect gun manufacturers from liability; specifically, The Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act has been law since passed by Congress in 2005. The law protects gun manufacturers and sellers from any lawsuits that emerge because of a gun violence incident. But, the plaintiffs could make the argument that the bump stock is an accessory, and not a gun component. Georgia State University law professor Timothy Lytton said, “The only way the plaintiffs can survive is if the court accepts the idea that a bump stock accessory is not covered under the U.S. Congress’ components parts definition.”

Lytton put the plaintiff’s chances of success bluntly when he said, “No plaintiff has ever obtained an unreversed jury verdict in a lawsuit against a gun manufacturer for an injury arising out of criminal use of a weapon. The argument is that the industry’s not responsible for gun violence – criminals are responsible.”

Attorney David Goldman has a strong belief that everyone should be treated fairly and those with the means should do what they can to bring justice in all areas of our society. That belief has led him to help Florida's injured from being taken advantage of by corporations and insurance companies. Since 1989 David Goldman has been fighting for the rights of Floridians both as an attorney and by personally supporting our community.

Lawsuits Filed In Wake Of Las Vegas Shootings

Goldman Babboni Fernandez
Murphy & Walsh

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