The Las Vegas mass shooting payout sets yet another bad precedent

Today marks the third anniversary of the worst mass shooting in the history of the United States. On October 1st, 2017, Stephen Paddock killed 58 people and wounded more than 850 others when he opened fire on the crowd attending an outdoor concert from the window of his room in the Mandalay Bay Hotel in Las Vegas. On the eve of this dark anniversary, a court in Clark County, Nevada awarded a massive payout of nearly a billion dollars to the victims of that attack and their families. But the payment is coming from the hotel’s parent company, MGM Resorts International, and its insurers. The company isn’t contesting the ruling and is not expected to appeal. While some are describing this resolution as a form of closure, we’re once again seeing the blame for this atrocity being placed on the wrong shoulders. (The Hill)

A Clark County, Nev., judge on Wednesday approved a payout of $800 million to the victims and relatives of the 2017 mass shooting at Las Vegas’ Mandalay Bay Hotel.

District Court Judge Linda Bell approved the payout from MGM Resorts International to more than 4,400 people, according to The Associated Press. Bell cited “near-unanimous participation in the settlement among potential claimants” in her order.

MGM Resorts, which did not acknowledge fault with the payout, will pay $49 million in the settlement, with its insurers covering the balance.

You’ll note that one key aspect of the settlement is the fact that MGM Resorts did not accept any fault in the mass shooting. They took no responsibility for all of the deaths and injuries. And yet they’re the ones shelling out all of that money. Perhaps we should be asking ourselves why.

After years of investigations by the police, the FBI and other agencies, we are still no closer to understanding what drove Stephen Paddock to engage in that murderous rampage. At this point, we’ll likely never know. He didn’t leave behind a suicide note and none of his friends or relatives seemed to have any clue that he would even consider doing such a thing. He obviously never intended to be taken alive, so all we were left with was questions.

But there’s one thing that we do know without a shadow of a doubt. The responsibility for all of that carnage rests solely on the shoulders of Stephen Paddock. The room he rented had the same safety features and accommodations as any other casino hotel room in Sin City and met all applicable building codes. He had to shoot the windows out in order to carry out his plan. The room offered no easy opportunity to do what he did. He was the one who surreptitiously smuggled all of his firearms and ammunition into the room. He was the one who pulled the trigger. The fault for all of those deaths and injuries is his alone.

And yet MGM Resorts International is the entity being made to pay for it. This was obviously a public relations decision on the part of the chain’s management, offering an opportunity for “closure” for the families. But the fact is that Paddock, while a relatively successful businessman, had nowhere near the amount of assets that would have been required to render a settlement of this size. So the attorneys for the victims and their families decided to go after the nearest available deep pockets. Those belonged to the hotel chain that did nothing more than rent a room to one of the thousands of seemingly inconspicuous tourists who arrived for a Las Vegas getaway that week.

How does this add up to any form of justice, either for the victims or for the hotel chain? It’s easy enough to shrug our shoulders and say that MGM Resorts makes tons of money and they have insurance so “they can afford it.” But that’s really not the question here. The company’s management may have agreed to the payout in the interest of looking like “the good guys,” but there’s been a serious miscarriage of justice in this case. And since nobody wants to say anything upsetting to those who were affected by the attack, everyone will just look the other way and let the winners go cash their checks. You can rest assured that the attorneys who also stuffed their own pockets when they sued MGM Resorts International knew that’s what the company would do. In fact, they were counting on it. And it’s just not right.

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