Lawsuits are now being filed against MGM and Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino alleging that they should be held liable for the shooting deaths of 58 people and injuries to hundreds more that were caused by Stephen Paddock. The plaintiffs are alleging that the attack might have been thwarted had MGM and Mandalay Bay spotted warning signs about Paddock. The shooter is alleged to have taken at least 10 suitcase filled with guns and ammunition to his room in the resort. He is said to have also set up a security system both inside and outside of his room to warn him if security or law enforcement personnel were coming to his room.
There is some precedent for the inadequate security allegations. According to NPR.org, as recently as last month, the Nevada Supreme Court ruled that MGM could be found liable in connection with an assault at one of its properties in 2010. Those victims were able to show that there were other violent attacks at the hotel that made the attacks on them foreseeable.
In the law of personal injury, claiming that an event wasn’t foreseeable is a viable defense. The MGM and Mandalay Bay lawyers are likely to raise the foreseeability issue, but the fact that mass shootings have taken place at other entertainment venues in the recent past might make the Mandalay Bay within the realm of foreseeability.
There is no uniform standard of care for security in the hotel industry, and the general rule is that a hotel isn’t a guarantor of a person’s safety when they’re injured or killed off of the hotel premises by a third party. A duty might arise for a hotel to be accountable for the behavior of its own guests though. Given the damages caused by Stephen Paddock in the Mandalay Bay case, it’s expected that no matter how the trial court rules, appeals will be taken. Ultimately, these cases could set a new general rule on the issue of adequacy of hotel security. Lawsuits are also being filed against the shooter’s estate.