MGM sues Las Vegas massacre survivors, claiming a Sept. 11-era terrorism law protects the company from lawsuits

MGM sues Las Vegas massacre survivors, claiming a Sept. 11-era terrorism law protects the company from lawsuits

Over the last couple of days, dozens of survivors of last year’s mass shooting in Las Vegas have started to receive some startling legal notices. The plaintiff? MGM Resorts International, the casino and hotel company, owner of both the fairgrounds where 58 people were shot to death at a country music festival and the Mandalay Bay Hotel, where the gunman perched himself on the 32nd floor to carry out the Oct. 1 massacre. MGM is facing lawsuits from more than 2,500 people after the massacre, which also wounded hundreds. Survivors, backed by high-profile attorneys, have said the company did not do enough to prevent the attack or limit the extent the harm. To defend itself, the company is turning to the little-known federal statute called the Safety Act, passed by Congress in 2002 to limit the liability of companies that provide anti-terrorism services. The idea was that companies might not introduce new security technologies designed to thwart terrorist attacks if the companies would then face expensive — and potentially business-ending — lawsuits when those technologies fail to stop killings. So policymakers offered companies a deal: With approval for their services by the Department of Homeland Security, they are protected from terrorism-related lawsuits. “They’re basically giving you a get-out-jail-free card for something that hasn’t happened yet,” said Bob Karl, a managing partner for Safety Act Consultants, a Milwaukee firm that advises companies seeking Safety Act designations. Safety Act designations can be an attractive legal protection for event and security companies. […]

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