Vegas victims' attorneys criticize MGM's legal maneuver

August 16, 2018 - 8:42 pm

LAS VEGAS (AP) — Attorneys for a group of victims of the Las Vegas mass shooting harshly criticized MGM Resorts International this week over its legal maneuver seeking to consolidate multiple lawsuits stemming from the massacre.

The victims' attorneys in court documents filed Tuesday say the casino operator is acting with improper motives in seeking to have the cases combined in one court. They also argue the company has not properly served the victims with court documents.

MGM last month sued more than 1,900 victims of the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history in a bid to avoid liability for the gunfire that rained down from a lone gunman at its Mandalay Bay casino-resort. The company filed the lawsuits in eight states and then asked a panel of federal judges to combine those cases and others stemming from the shooting.

The company argues in the lawsuits that it has "no liability of any kind" to survivors or families of slain victims under a federal law enacted after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. It is not asking the victims for money and has insisted it is all an effort to avoid years of costly litigation.

The attorneys for the group of victims in court filings characterized the company's actions as "reprehensible."

"It is abusive of the courts, amounts to forum shopping, and is nothing more than attempt to limit the victims' access to justice," they wrote in a court filing. They also say none of the defendants in the lawsuits have been served.

MGM spokeswoman Debra DeShong in a statement to The Associated Press Thursday called the allegations of improper service "baseless." She said the victims' attorneys have been properly served with notice of the proceedings before the panel of judges.

"That is what is required by the rules," she said.

The Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation has scheduled oral arguments in the case for next month in San Francisco.

Congress created the panel 50 years ago. Its responsibilities are determining whether civil lawsuits pending around the country are similar enough to be combined, and to select a judge or judges to oversee them.

Consolidated cases can involve airplane crashes, train wrecks or hotel fires, or lawsuits over defective products.

The shooting carried out by a high-stakes gambler in October in Las Vegas left 58 people death and more than 800 injured.

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