Southland attorneys representing victims of the 2017 mass shooting at an open-air country music festival in Las Vegas that killed 58 people hailed an $800 million settlement with MGM Resorts Thursday, but said corporate America needs to pressure the government to take steps aimed at ending such gun violence.
“Unfortunately, it seems like the only thing that drives change in this country is money,” attorney Kevin Boyle said at a news conference in downtown Los Angeles. “And so now that we have companies realizing that they could be financially responsible for these shootings, we’re hoping that steps are going to be taken and pressure is going to be applied to the right government people to stop this madness. That’s what the families really want and that’s what we think this settlement is going to achieve.
“And the unfortunate reality is that, for example, the gun manufacturers cannot be sued due to a federal act that completely stops them from being sued,” Boyle said. “That’s where we are right now. And companies are going to have to increase their security or else they’re going to be held liable for these things. MGM stepped up, paid its due. But I’m sure they don’t want this to happen again at one of their properties. I’m sure no company wants it to happen.”
Boyle and Newport Beach attorney Mark Robinson spoke to reporters in response to news of the settlement, which will resolve pending lawsuits against MGM stemming from the deadliest mass shooting to date in the United States. In addition to the 58 people who died, hundreds more were injured.
The amount of the resolution on behalf of 4,500 victims will range between $735 million and $800 million depending upon the number of plaintiffs who choose to participate in the settlement, Boyle said.
As a result of the agreement, plaintiffs will dismiss and release any pending litigation against MGM Resorts, Boyle said. It will also dismiss and release the declaratory-relief actions filed by MGM Resorts against participating claimants. The settlements will be funded by MGM Resorts’ insurers up to $735 million with MGM Resorts adding any additional amounts up to $800 million.
Robinson stressed the significance of MGM agreeing to a settlement, as opposed to losing a case at trial.
“We’ve all had jury verdicts … in the, you know, billions of dollars, but we never got paid,” Robinson said. The clients didn’t get paid. So verdicts don’t mean anything. Settlements mean something.”
But he and Boyle both stressed that ending mass shootings is the real goal.
“We’ve got to stop these mass shootings,” Robinson said. “I mean, it just keeps going on every month. There’s one a month. It’s crazy.”
The settlement resolves claims that MGM was negligent in allowing the killer to stockpile weapons and ammunition at its Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino hotel. Shooter Stephen Paddock had stored an arsenal of weapons in his 32nd floor room, from which he sprayed bullets into the crowd of thousands attending the Route 91 Harvest Festival on Oct. 1, 2017. The gunman was later found dead in his room of a self-inflicted gunshot wound, and authorities were unable to determine a motive.
“The scars and injuries from that night can never be erased,” said Jason McMillan, a 37-year-old Riverside County sheriff’s deputy who was shot and paralyzed. “I’m glad we could reach a resolution that allows us to put this nightmare behind us so our family can move forward and start focusing on the future.”
Boyle said plaintiffs must have their cases examined by an independent claims administrator before the amount each person receives can be determined. The attorney said victims will start seeing settlement checks by the end of next year.
It was not immediately known if any of the victims who filed claims will opt out of the settlement, which involves about 70 law firms.
Lawsuits were filed as early as November 2017 claiming that Mandalay Bay was negligent in allowing the shooter to bring in a large cache of weapons to his room. In July 2018, MGM Resorts International filed lawsuits against hundreds of victims claiming that it had “no liability of any kind” for the attack which occurred on its property.
MGM Chairman/CEO Jim Murren issued a statement saying, “Our goal has always been to resolve these matters so our community and the victims and their families can move forward in the healing process. This agreement with plaintiff’s counsel is a major step, and one that we hoped for a long time would be possible.”
Boyle against stressed, however, that beyond the money, the shooting victims have a larger goal in mind.
“I think what all the victims also want is they want some change in this country,” he said. “They want these mass shootings to stop. As we all know there’s an epidemic of mass shootings in this country. This is the first time a company has stepped up and paid the victims.”