LAS VEGAS (AP) — Attorneys who filed one of the first lawsuits after the Oct. 1 mass shooting that killed 58 concert-goers and left hundreds injured on the Las Vegas Strip filed four new negligence cases Monday on behalf of more than 450 victims.
This time, however, Houston-based lawyers Chad Pinkerton and Mo Aziz filed the cases in Los Angeles against companies including MGM Resorts International, the corporate owner of both the Mandalay Bay resort and the Route 91 Harvest Festival concert venue.
Pinkerton said the intent was to get the cases before a jury less likely to be influenced by the size and clout of a casino company that is both an active political contributor in Nevada and the largest employer in the state.
“Los Angeles is a better venue for fairness for our clients,” Pinkerton said in a telephone interview ahead of a news conference announcing the filing of two wrongful death lawsuits, a third case stemming from a woman’s head wound and a fourth on behalf of 450 people claiming injuries in the worst mass shooting in modern U.S. history.
“There would be certain advantages for MGM to defend its case in Nevada,” Pinkerton said, adding that a jury in MGM Resorts’ hometown might include people with direct or indirect ties to the company and its more than 70,000 employees.
The company has said through representatives it won’t litigate shooting lawsuits in the media. In statements, it has blamed the massacre on the gunman, Stephen Paddock.
Defendants in the new lawsuits also include Live Nation Entertainment, the concert promoter. In a statement, the Beverly Hills, California-based company expressed sorrow for “countless people forever impacted by this senseless act of violence” and said it was cooperating with an active FBI investigation. It declined to comment about the lawsuits.
Documents submitted Monday in Los Angeles also seek compensation from Paddock’s estate.
They included a refiling of a negligence claim originally filed Oct. 10 in Las Vegas on behalf of a wounded California woman, Paige Gasper, with four new plaintiffs added. Gasper’s original case was dismissed Friday in Nevada.
“Most of our clients from California.” Pinkerton said. “Most all are getting their treatment here.”
The lawsuits do not seek class-action status, but Aziz said he expects they will be consolidated during pretrial investigations and evidence exchanges.
The new lawsuits followed a wave of cases filed last week in Nevada state court in Las Vegas on behalf of 14 concertgoers, including some who were shot, injured or say they were traumatized trying to escape.
A Chicago law firm helped prepare those filings, involving plaintiffs from the Chicago area and a California man who was shot and wounded.
Police and the FBI say the 64-year-old Paddock rained bursts of gunfire for 10 minutes from a 32nd-floor room at the Mandalay Bay into a crowd of 22,000 people in the concert venue across Las Vegas Boulevard.
Paddock, a high-stakes video poker gambler with homes in Reno and the southern Nevada resort town of Mesquite spent several days amassing an arsenal of assault-style weapons and ammunition in a two-room suite. Authorities say he killed himself before officers reached his room. A motive for the deadly rampage has not been identified.
Plaintiffs in mass-shooting lawsuits face a high legal bar to prove responsibility and liability by someone other than the shooter, and lawsuits can take years in court.
But Pinkerton said he believes he can show that tragedy could have been avoided if hotel and corporate officials followed hotel weapon possession policies already in place and implemented recent safety recommendations.
“We know in this day and age that evil does happen, and we have to protect against that,” the lawyer said. “This was the largest venue security failure in U.S. history.”
By KEN RITTER
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