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Mandalay Bay is suing shooting victims?

The mass shooting last October in Las Vegas at the Mandalay Bay Hotel was the worst in U.S. history. The shooter opened fire from the 32nd floor of the hotel, killing 58 people and injuring more than 500 others who were attending a country music concert on the grounds.

The New York Times now reports that hotel owner MGM Resorts International is taking the unprecedented step of suing more than thousand people named in suits against the hotel chain. The list of people includes anyone who has filed a suit or has given notice that they intend to file a suit. Victims claim, among other things, that the hotel failed to provide adequate security in allowing the gunman to bring high-powered rifles and thousands of rounds of ammunition to his hotel room.

Redefining terrorism

The premise for this approach is a 2002 law called the Support Anti-terrorism by Fostering Effective Technologies Act (or Safety Act) that was signed by Congress after the 911 terrorist attacks. The law was drafted to shield federally certified providers of security services and manufacturers of security equipment should these companies fail to prevent a terrorist attack.

Meant to protect hundreds of companies including software designers, security planning services, sensors manufacturers and other entities, the Safety Act potentially applies to this shooting because A) the concert security had certification from Department of Homeland Security, and B) the shooting qualifies as an act of terrorism.

The first of its kind could have long-term implications

This legal maneuver by the hotel chain is the first time that the Safety Act has involved litigation. There are no precedents for a case like this, so the ruling will likely have a landmark impact on personal injury cases involving liability for man-made catastrophes of all kinds. MGM is not seeking money from the victims, but they want protection from liability.

A potent reminder

This case will not be resolved for some time, but it is a potent reminder of how complex personal injury claims and wrongful death lawsuits can be. Even relatively straightforward ones still involve some of the same legal principles involved in this large case. It also reminder that a personal injury attorney can be tremendous asset even you already believe the case will clearly be settled in your favor.

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