A Las Vegas shooting victim has filed a lawsuit against the Mandalay Bay - and it could be just the beginning of the hotel's legal nightmare
- A 21-year-old victim of the Las Vegas shooting has filed a lawsuit against the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino, where the deadliest shooting in modern US history took place.
- Legal experts say it's almost certain that other victims of the Las Vegas shooting will attempt to hold the hotel liable in court.
- Even if the hotel staff couldn't have prevented the shooting, it could be used to argue that hotels need to take stronger measures to prevent mass shootings.
A victim of the Las Vegas shooting has filed a lawsuit against the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino.
And, she likely won't be the only one.On Monday, Paige Gasper filed a lawsuit against the Mandalay Bay and MGM Resorts International , the hotel's parent company. The 21-year-old had been shot in the chest when Las Vegas shooter Stephen Paddock opened fire on 22,000 people attending a music festival, according to the complaint.
Paddock stockpiled weapons in his hotel room before firing from the windows of his suite on the 32nd floor into the crowd of people across the street, killing 59 people and wounding nearly 500 others.
Prior to Gasper filing the case, legal experts told Business Insider that victims of the shooting will likely bring lawsuits against MGM Resorts and the Mandalay Bay. Plaintiffs will likely seek damages for things like medical expenses or disabilities resulting from the shooting.
Gasper's case provides a blueprint for other victims' potential arguments against the hotel.
'Negligent' preventative measures
The crux of Gasper's argument is that the company failed to "maintain the Mandalay Bay premises in a reasonably safe condition."First, there's an apparent lack of surveillance. The plaintiff claims that the Mandalay Bay failed to properly surveil guests and failed to monitor premises using security cameras. Additionally, it argues the Mandalay Bay "failed to adequately train and supervise employees on the reporting and discovery of suspicious individuals and/or person and/or activity."
From the moment Paddock arrived at the hotel, employees would have been trained to report any suspicious behavior that they saw from him, said Dick Hudak, a managing partner of Resort Security Consulting. However, they seem to have missed a few potential red flags.
In the days after Paddock checked into the hotel, he brought at least 10 suitcases filled with firearms into his room. Police officials said Paddock also constructed an elaborate surveillance system in the hotel, placing two cameras in the hallway outside his suite - one on a service cart - as well as a camera in his door's peephole.
The complaint highlights the Mandalay Bay's failure to notice or prevent Paddock's weapon stockpiling and surveillance cameras as two failures for which the hotel should be held legally liable.
"He gave [them] a clue there that something bad was going to happen," Hudak, a former FBI agent who was previously the director of security at Sheraton, said of the cameras. The Mandalay Bay's employees "didn't pick it up," he added.
Finally, the complaint mentions that, according to law enforcement officers, Mandalay Bay security officer Jesus Campos was shot by Paddock before Paddock began shooting out the window. According to the complaint, the Mandalay Bay failed to "timely respond or otherwise act" in response to Campos' shooting.
"As evidenced by law enforcement briefings over the past week, many facts are still unverified and continue to change as events are under review," MGM Resorts spokesperson Debra DeShong said in a statement. "We cannot be certain about the most recent timeline that has been communicated publicly, and we believe what is currently being expressed may not be accurate."MGM Resorts, which operates the Mandalay Bay, declined to comment on legal issues.
Setting a precedent
If Gasper and other victims win their cases, it could help set a precedent for what hotels are legally responsible to do to ensure guests' safety.
As more mass shootings take place in the US, it's increasingly likely attorneys can argue that hotels and other venues should see the potential for such a crime and make systematic changes to prevent it.
"Foreseeability is one of the key components of liability," Hudak said.
Currently, the industry has no national standards for security, and hotels aren't typically held accountable for guests' behavior.
Heidi Li Feldman, a professor at Georgetown Law School, says it's "entirely feasible" that an attorney would make this argument based on the fact that mass shootings have taken place at other entertainment venues.
"If Congress isn't regulating gun ownership, it is going to be private parties ... who end up regulating their own premises," Feldman said.