MGM agrees to pay hefty settlement to victims of Las Vegas massacre

MGM Resorts International, the global hospitality company that owns the hotel that the Las Vegas shooter used to kill 58 innocent men and women and hurt 851 others on October 1, 2017, has agreed to pay up to $800 million to victims of the mass tragedy.

Victims are expected to receive their share of the payment by no later than the end of 2020.

“MGM Resorts International and counsel representing substantially all plaintiffs … have reached a settlement agreement to resolve pending lawsuits involving MGM Resorts regarding these matters,” the 33-year-old company announced in a press release Thursday.

“The total settlement amount is expected to be between $735 million and $800 million, subject to and depending on the number of claimants who choose to participate in the settlement. The entire process is expected to be completed by late 2020.”

The last-minute settlement marked the end of what had been an unprecedented legal battle. While it’s typical for lawsuits to be filed after a mass shooting, both the number of lawsuits filed in this case and MGM’s stunning countersuits were distinctly unique.

“Faced with potentially hundreds of lawsuits, MGM sued more than 1,000 victims in July 2018, in an aggressive but untested strategy to short-circuit the cases and shield itself from liability,” The New York Times notes.

To be clear, the company didn’t seek financial compensation from the victims. It simply wanted a federal court to clear it of liability.

“MGM contends that under the law, which Congress passed in 2002, it is immunized from liability because it met two conditions: A security company that was hired for the concert had a certification from the Department of Homeland Security, and the shooting qualified, in the company’s view, as an ‘act of terrorism,'” the Times originally reported.

The countersuits nevertheless provoked mass outrage.

Look:

Their anger was palpable and may have also been effective. In its first major financial statement of the year, MGM reported earnings so below Wall Street estimates that its stocks plummeted.

“MGM Resorts stock fell Tuesday morning after the company announced earnings well below Wall Street estimates. … MGM Resorts reported first-quarter adjusted earnings per share of 12 cents a share, well below the Wall Street consensus estimate of 23 cents,” Barron’s reported at the time.

The anger was also shared by the victims’ lawyer.

“It’s all about immunizing themselves from liability and staying out of state courts,” attorney Craig Eiland said to the Times. “They want to say that it does not matter how negligent MGM was.”

But now that MGM has finally bent the knee, their outrage appears to be evaporating.

“MGM Resorts is a valued member of the Las Vegas community and this settlement represents good corporate citizenship on their part. We believe that the terms of this settlement represent the best outcome for our clients and will provide the greatest good for those impacted by these events,” another attorney, Robert Eglet, said in a statement.

Jim Murren, the chairman and CEO of MGM Resorts, likewise issued his own statement — one that seemed somewhat disingenuous.

“Our goal has always been to resolve these matters so our community and the victims and their families can move forward in the healing process,” he said. “This agreement with the Plaintiffs’ Counsel is a major step, and one that we hoped for a long time would be possible.”

If that were true, why did MGM sue the victims?

“We have always believed that prolonged litigation around these matters is in no one’s best interest. It is our sincere hope that this agreement means that scenario will be avoided,” he added.

Some liberal social media users have responded to the settlement by arguing that the National Rifle Association should be made to pay, not MGM:

It’s unclear what the NRA has to do with the Las Vegas shooting.

To this day, the shooter’s motive still hasn’t been discerned.

Vivek Saxena

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