Proving Liability in Las Vegas Shooting Could be Challenging

Lawsuits are being filed over the Oct. 1 Las Vegas massacre that left 58 dead and more than 500 wounded when Stephen Paddock fired down on a country music festival from a nearby high-rise hotel. Among the first was a suit filed by a wounded Texas college student, seeking to hold MGM Resorts, Live Nation, Bump Stock manufacturer Slide Fire and the estate of the gunman liable.

There does not appear to be any dispute that Stephen Paddock was the gunman, making the move to freeze the estate a prudent decision, says Dallas attorney Timothy Zeiger. Injured victims will often sue the estate of the person who acted negligently, such as when a careless driver causes a traffic fatality, or in this case carries out an intentionally malicious act.

However, despite the reported size of his estate, given the large number of potential claims related to the horrific injuries and deaths he caused, the chance that any particular victim will be justly compensated from the estate does not appear to be likely, adds Mr. Zeiger, head of the litigation section at Shackelford, Bowen, McKinley & Norton.

It is still too early to determine the legal responsibility of MGM Resorts, Live Nation or Slide Fire, Mr. Zeiger says. He notes that unless a tragedy is “reasonably foreseeable” and not just an “isolated, and up to now, unique crime,” it will be difficult to prove negligence.


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