According to a new report from The New York Times, MGM Resorts International has agreed to pay up to $800 million to settle lawsuits from victims of the mass shooting at Las Vegas’ Route 91 Harvest Festival in October 2017.
On the evening of October 1st, 2017, during Jason Aldean‘s closing set at the country music festival, a gunman opened fire on the crowd gathered on the Strip from his 32nd-floor window at the overlooking Mandalay Bay Hotel, which MGM owns. He continued to fire for roughly an hour as the festival’s audience scrambled for cover. By the time authorities found him dead of a self-inflicted gunshot wound in his room, he had killed 58 people and injured hundreds more, making it the most devastating mass shooting in modern American history.
When MGM was initially accused of negligence in allowing Paddock to stockpile high-powered weapons and thousands of rounds of ammunition in his hotel room, the company responded with an aggressive strategy to combat legal action.
As the New York Times report notes,
[MGM] had sought to block victims from recovering any money from the company, arguing that a little-known federal law passed in the aftermath of the Sept. 11 attacks meant that MGM enjoyed a shield from liability because the shooting qualified as an “act of terrorism” under the law’s expansive definitions.
Because of that — and also because a security firm hired for the concert possessed a special designation from the Department of Homeland Security — MGM argued that its interpretation of the law meant that it should not have to pay damage claims to injured concertgoers. The federal law is known as the Support Antiterrorism by Fostering Effective Technologies Act, or Safety Act.
On those grounds, MGM went on to counter-sue more than 1,000 people who had already filed cases against the company. While they did not seek any money in these suits, the move provoked widespread anger toward the hospitality and entertainment giant.
This new agreement aims to help mitigate that ill will toward MGM. Notes Robert Eglet, the lawyer for one of the victims, “While nothing will be able to bring back the lives lost or undo the horrors so many suffered on that day, this settlement will provide fair compensation for thousands of victims and their families.” Eglet added that the deal “represents good corporate citizenship” on the part of MGM.