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MGM could pay up to $800M in Las Vegas shooting settlement

Updated May 16, 2019 - 6:34 pm

MGM Resorts International says it could possibly reach settlement between $735 million and $800 million for the litigation that arose from the Oct. 1, 2017, mass shooting.

In a quarterly Securities and Exchange Commission filing, the company said $751 million in insurance can go toward the settlement, which the company hopes to reach by next May.

The SEC filing was required because any settlement could affect the company’s financial results.

An MGM spokeswoman said the company believes a settlement is possible.

“MGM’s stated goal regarding mediation is, as it always has been, to resolve these matters so that all impacted can move forward in their healing process,” spokeswoman Debra DeShong said in an emailed statement.

“After multiple mediation sessions over several months, progress has been made, and while mediation is ongoing, the company believes it is reasonably possible that a settlement will be reached,” she said.

But the attorney representing around 2,500 victims said it was premature to report a possible settlement.

“When I first read it, it almost implies we’re really close to a settlement, and that’s just not true,” said attorney Robert Eglet, adding that the statements were “technically accurate” but should not be construed as a guarantee.

Settlement ‘possible,’ not ‘probable’

“I wouldn’t be involved in mediation for three months if it wasn’t possible,” Eglet continued. “But it’s not probable — it’s possible. We may get a settlement, but we may not.”

Eglet, who also leads a group of attorneys representing about 1,700 additional victims, said the litigation is complicated and will take time.

In reference to the $800 million figure cited by MGM, Eglet laughed. “We’ve thrown out numbers, they’ve thrown out numbers, but there’s no agreements on anything,” he said.

The plaintiffs are seeking compensation for a range of physical and psychological harm after a shooter rained gunfire from a Mandalay Bay suite into an open-air concert crowd, killing 58 people and injuring more than 800.

There may be 4,200 claimants in the case, Eglet said.

Inadequate protection

Plaintiffs accuse MGM Resorts, which owns the high-rise hotel and the concert venue across Las Vegas Boulevard, of failing to adequately protect the 22,000 people attending the Route 91 Harvest festival country music concert.

MGM points to Las Vegas police findings that the shooter, Stephen Paddock, spent several days amassing an arsenal of assault-style weapons and ammunition in a two-room suite at Mandalay Bay, across the Strip from the outdoor concert venue.

Paddock was a 64-year-old retired accountant and high-stakes video poker player.

Police and the FBI say he acted alone, firing out of the windows with guns equipped with rapid-fire bump stocks, then killing himself before officers reached his room. Paddock didn’t leave a note or a manifesto, and authorities closed investigations saying they couldn’t identify a motive.

MGM’s SEC filing said the company intends to extend the statute of limitations for filing a claim to May 15, 2020.

The filing also said the company “continues to believe it is not legally responsible for the perpetrator’s criminal acts,” but would seek to settle “in the interest of avoiding protracted litigation and the related impact on the community.”

Broad categories of victims

John Chatwin of Henderson-based Centurion Insurance Services said one of the steps toward reaching a settlement, generally, is to categorize claimants in groups ranging from the most severely affected victims to those less impacted.

“Someone who is quadriplegic will have more medical needs that someone who may have broken a limb,” Chatwin said. “I’m not trying to minimize the amount of trauma produced in this incident and I know there was also psychological damage and damages to spouses and other relatives.”

Chatwin expects the most severely afflicted victims would be the smallest group with numbers growing among other groups of less affected victims. He also noted that attorney fees are likely to take about half of the settlement money.

Chatwin noted that MGM angered many people last year by filing lawsuits against victims in a bid to consolidate cases in federal court, where the company could avoid liability under a law passed after the Sept. 11 attacks. MGM maintains that a security company hired for the company had a certification from the Department of Homeland Security and it believes the shooting qualified as an act of terrorism.

Contact Richard N. Velotta at rvelotta@reviewjournal.com or 702-477-3893. Follow @RickVelotta on Twitter. Review-Journal staff writer Rachel Crosby and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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