I like MGM resorts properties. A lot. I have stayed at the Bellagio several times over the last few years. I eat at Le Cirque and Heritage Steak and Bruxie and many more places. We have been to Zumanity and the piano bar in the New York New York, and my favorite relaxing spot is the Bellagio spa. I even follow the relationship between MGM and cruise lines since it helps determine cruise vacations. So, I am an MLife guy. MGM’s widely-reported decision this week to sue some victims of the October 2017 Las Vegas shooting, however, leaves me deeply concerned. Suing people who got shot strikes me as deeply wrong, and it makes me ask whether we should boycott MGM. So, let’s walk through the details of the shooting, the argument MGM is making, and whether a boycott is an appropriate response.
The shooting itself was horrific. On October 1, 2017, Stephen Paddock was in a suite at the Mandalay Bay. The Mandalay Bay is an MGM Resorts property. He had stockpiled guns in the suite for some time. There was a country music concert across the street. Paddock opened fire on the concert. 58 people died and 851 were injured. Paddock died when police intervened, and victims and their families looked for someone to blame. Some victims and their families blamed the Mandalay Bay and MGM resorts. Some of those victims either sued or threatened to sue MGM, with the legal argument typically being: The hotel allowed Paddock to stockpile these weapons, and the shooting happened on their property.
To be clear, I make no finding on the appropriateness of those suits. I am not an attorney, and I do not live in Nevada. I understand the anger of the victims, and I wonder how Paddock accumulated this inventory in his hotel room. Hotels also should go through my bags and my room. I’m not really sure what the Mandalay Bay was supposed to do differently here. If the victims of the shooting wish to sue, so be it. We have courts to determine how the law applies to a set of facts, and there are some important questions to ask here.
MGM, however, sees things differently. Understandably, they wish to protect their legal position. The laws in federal courts are more favorable to them than are the laws in state courts, and they would like to have the suit heard in that forum. They would also like all of the lawsuits to be heard in one place. Those are all reasonable legal arguments. What is not reasonable, however, is how MGM has elected to advance those arguments. MGM Resorts has sued some victims of the shooting. Specifically, MGM has sued those who have already sued them or who have threatened to do so. The lawsuits want a federal declaration that MGM has no liability to the victims in this case. To be fair, MGM is not seeking money nor attorney fees. They claim that a post 9/11 law prevents the victims from suing.
The lawsuit makes no sense to this humble journalist and blogger. Of course MGM wants to argue that they aren’t liable. However, they have every opportunity to do that in response to the suits already filed. In some cases, they haven’t even been sued. Angry victims simply threatened to sue. If the law prevents victims from suing, make that your response to their case. Suing victims of people shot from your property strikes me as a horrible abuse of the legal system.
Apparently, other feels the same way. The hashtags #BoycottMGM, #BoycottMGMResorts, and #LasVegasShooting are all trending on Twitter. I am curious about how many people will actually change their vacation plans in response. However, that is precisely what I intend to do. I will not stay at MGM properties while they sue shooting victims. It’s just that simple. I absolutely respect their right to protect their legal position. There also has to be a distinction between what the law allows and what good citizens do. I cannot support a company taking this action. Please let me know your thoughts, and as long as the language is decent and the debate respectful I will post the comments. At a minimum, we need to debate whether this lawsuit is appropriate.