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Insult to injury? MGM’s suit against shooting victims questioned

When Raleigh news media first reported the story, many people checked twice to make sure that they had read correctly. People across the nation were taken aback when MGM Resorts recently filed a lawsuit against the victims of last year’s Las Vegas shooting.

Though MGM (parent company of Mandalay Bay, where the shooting took place) was quick to say it wasn’t asking for money from the victims, but merely for a change from state to federal courts, it appeared that the damage to its brand was already done. Though the company said wants the personal injury, wrongful death and premises liability lawsuits resolved “quickly, fairly and efficiently,” it might not have been wise to sue the more than 800 people injured (including 422 by gunfire).

Fifty-eight people attending a country music festival on MGM-owned property were killed by a sniper barricaded in a Mandalay Bay room far above ground.

There is little doubt that the legal action against the victims puzzled and angered many observers.

"I just can't believe the audacity," said a 36-year-old California man who was shot and paralyzed that Oct. 1 evening.

MGM claims that a federal law enacted after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks means it "no liability of any kind." The company says the 2002 statute absolves it of liability because it used a security vendor certified by the Department of Homeland Security.

However, the FBI has not categorized the Las Vegas shooting as a “terrorist” attack, in part because law enforcement has been unable to determine the shooter’s motives.

No one yet knows how the lawsuit against the victims or the lawsuits filed against MGM by the victims will be resolved, but it seems possible that the damage to the MGM brand will not be short-lived.

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