Wednesday 16 October 2019

Settlement reached to compensate families bereaved by Las Vegas gun massacre

Hundreds of lawsuits have been filed over the 2017 shooting that claimed 58 innocent lives, the worst in modern US history.

A window is broken at the Mandalay Bay resort and casino in Las Vegas, the room from where a gunman fired on a nearby music festival, killing 58 (John Locher/AP)
A window is broken at the Mandalay Bay resort and casino in Las Vegas, the room from where a gunman fired on a nearby music festival, killing 58 (John Locher/AP)

By Ken Ritter, Associated Press

MGM Resorts International has reached a settlement that could pay up to 800 million US dollars (£647 million) to families of the 58 people who died and hundreds of others who were injured in a Las Vegas shooting attack, lawyers have said.

It is a major step to resolve hundreds of lawsuits in multiple states that seek compensation for a range of physical and psychological injuries from the deadliest mass shooting in modern US history in October 2017.

Victims say the casino giant failed to protect 22,000 people at a country music concert venue it owns or stop the gunman from spending several days amassing an arsenal of assault-style weapons and ammunition in his suite at the Mandalay Bay resort.

The amount of the settlement depends on the number of plaintiffs who take part, according to a statement from Las Vegas law firm Eglet Adams, which represents nearly 2,500 victims and made the announcement just days after the second anniversary of the October 1 2017 massacre.

“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,” said Jim Murren, chairman and chief executive of MGM Resorts.

An independent administrator will be appointed by a court to dole out money from the settlement fund, lawyers and MGM said.

They expect to wrap up the work by late next year.

MGM’s insurers will fund a minimum of 735 million US dollars.

Depending on the number of victims who participate, the company will contribute more, up to 800 million US dollars, according to the victims’ lawyers.

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Heidi Dupin, right, embraces Jill Hale at a makeshift memorial for the shooting victims (John Locher/AP)

“Today’s agreement marks a milestone in the recovery process for the victims of the horrifying events of 1 October,” Robert Eglet, a lead plaintiffs’ counsel, said in the statement.

“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.”

A country music festival became a killing ground when a 64-year-old retired accountant and high-stakes video poker player fired out the windows of his hotel room into the crowd.

Stephen Paddock killed himself as authorities closed in, and they found 23 assault-style weapons in his room, many equipped with bump stocks that allow firearms to fire rapidly like machine guns.

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Yvonne Justice, left, comforts Emily Sebring during a memorial ceremony (John Locher/AP)

Police and the FBI found that Paddock meticulously planned the attack and theorised that he may have sought notoriety.

But they said they never determined a clear motive.

As legal claims piled up, MGM drew outrage when it filed lawsuits last year against more than 1,900 victims, arguing it had no liability to survivors or families of the murdered victims under a federal law enacted after the September 11 terrorist attacks.

PA Media

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