Is Mandalay Bay liable for Las Vegas shooting? This victim definitely thinks so, and here's why
A student wounded in the mass shooting has filed a lawsuit against operators of the Mandalay Bay, the festival organizers and the bump stock maker
By not responding in a timely manner to the shooting of one of their security guards, are operators of Mandalay Bay, the hotel from where Las Vegas gunman Stephen Paddock went on a shooting spree, liable in the massacre that left 58 people dead?
Well, this California student definitely thinks so. Paige Gasper, a 21-year-old college student from Wheatland, California, who was one of the nearly 500 injured in the October 1 shooting, has now filed a lawsuit against MGM Resorts International and its subsidiary Mandalay Corp., which own Mandalay Bay.
According to Gasper, the hotel operators failed to properly monitor Paddock’s activities during his stay at the hotel, and also responded late to the shooting of security officer Jesus Campos. Paddock fired at the security officer at least six minutes before opening fire on the crowd below, according to the revised timeline of events that led to the deadliest mass shooting in modern American history.
Gasper has also named Live Nation Entertainment, the organizer of the Route 91 harvest country music festival, for allegedly failing to "build and mark" adequate emergency exits and train its employees on how to respond in an emergency. The psychology student's lawsuit also accused Slide Fire Solutions, the maker of bump stock devices that were used by the gunman, of negligence, design and manufacturing defects.
The student's lawyers said that before she was shot at the music festival, Gasper was on the Dean's list and working three jobs. When bullets fired from the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay began ripping through the crowd, Gasper was shot in the right armpit, according to her complaint. The bullet went through the breast tissue, shattered a rib, lacerated her liver and then exited her body, the lawsuit says.
She was taken to the Spring Valley Hospital. She's since been released and is recovering at her home in California, her lawyers said
Gasper's legal team insist that their client's lawsuit is not about a payday. Rather, it's about improving security and protocols at hotels and other venues, the lawyers said. "If allowed, evil will find a way to hurt and destroy," Gasper's mother, Heather Selken, told KTLA. "This can no longer be allowed."
"Should have noticed something was amiss"
Not only should MGM have responded more promptly and appropriately to news of a guard's shooting, but hotel security should have noticed something was amiss on several occasions, Gasper's attorneys said. Instead, the lawsuit alleges, MGM's negligence enabled one of its guests "to commit a mass shooting unencumbered."
The hotel failed to monitor Paddock's actions because of which he was able to take in a horde of firearms, which included assault rifles, in 10 suitcases into his 32nd floor suite, all unnoticed, the lawsuit alleges.
It also failed to notice the perpetrator setting up surveillance outside his room, and didn't respond quickly enough after he broke the windows in his hotel room to start shooting, according to the lawsuit.
"Not enough emergency exits"
The lawsuit also alleges that MGM, which also owns the concert venue, and Live Nation did not design, build or mark adequate emergency exits and failed to “properly train and supervise employees in an appropriate plan of action in case of an emergency.”
There was no plan in place for an emergency evacuation, and no announcer took over the sound system to provide instructions, attorney Chad Pinkerton told CNN. "People were left unknowing, figuring out on their own how to escape." The attorney added that no police departments or city officials were named in the suit because they "did the very best they could possibly do".
And while the lawsuit leaves the door open to add other manufacturers and designers of bump stocks, it specifically names Texas-based Slide Fire Solutions, which is already facing one lawsuit from a gun control group. Investigators say the Las Vegas gunman had bump stocks, which are legal, on 12 of his rifles, allowing him to fire them more like automatic weapons.
MGM questions accuracy of the police timeline
MGM has now questioned the accuracy of the altered timeline of events that led to the massacre. The revised timeline has raised questions about how MGM Resorts International and Las Vegas police responded to the mass shooting.
The police on Monday said that security guard Campos had been shot six minutes before Paddock opened fire at the crowd below. Authorities had previously said that Campos was wounded after Paddock began firing at concertgoers. Paddock later shot himself, police had claimed.
Another new piece of information was that the gunman checked into the Mandalay Bay on September 25, three days earlier than previously claimed.
MGM Resorts, in a statement Tuesday night, said the events around the shooting are murky and that the official account may change as the investigation progresses. “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,” Debra DeShong, a spokeswoman for the casino operator, said in the statement.
While refusing to comment on the lawsuit, DeShong told New York Times that security has been and continues to be a top priority at all of MGM Resorts. "As law enforcement has confirmed, the shooter was accompanied by a bellman on two occasions in a service elevator along with his luggage. It is not a special perk and guests do request to remain with their bags, and they may be taken to their room via the service elevator," she said.
Timeline could change again?
Speaking to the Las Vegas Review-Journal on Tuesday, Las Vegas Sheriff Joe Lombardo said it's "going to take some time" to sort out the details, and the timeline could change again. He refused to entertain the notion that anyone was to blame for the police response. "You're never going to get me to say that somebody dropped the ball," the sheriff told the newspaper. "I don't believe that happened. I think everybody did a fantastic job."
As for a motive, investigators remain stumped, he said. "We're looking for a trigger point, and right now we haven't been able to find one. And I've got to be frank with you, we may never know," he told the paper. "Something that happened in his life -- a death, divorce, loss of job, radicalization -- all those things that you would expect to find, we have not found."
Paddock spent three days in a room that the casino "comped," before moving to the suite that would become his sniper's nest, the sheriff said. He paid for the latter room himself, according to Lombardo, and traveled to his home, in a retirement community in Mesquite, Nevada, several times before perpetrating the massacre, Lombardo told the Review-Journal.
The shooter, an avid gambler, has no apparent debt, and police studying his wins and losses unearthed nothing unusual. There are no obvious mental health issues, and interviews with his family members and two ex-wives haven't yielded a reason he may have snapped. An autopsy revealed no abnormalities, the sheriff said.
"We haven't been able to point to anything yet, OK? Like I said, he's not on anybody's radar. He's not on anybody's watchlist," Lombardo told the paper.
If you have any views or stories that you would like to share with us, drop us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org