Metts Legal would be remiss if we did not acknowledge our dismay over the horrific shooting tragedy that recently occurred in Las Vegas. As with many others in the US, Metts Legal expresses heartfelt condolences. As the weeks pass, and as survivors resume the routine of daily life, we hope they will continue to find healing comfort in the loving support of family and friends.
We have read the stories of those who died. And, we hope their family and friends find solace in the memories of times of joy together as they celebrate the lives of their loved ones.
Facts behind the Las Vegas Shooting
Very few people in the United States are unaware of the facts of this incident. But let’s review the solid facts of the case:
1. On Oct. 1, the entire country was shaken by the vicious and unmotivated shooting of innocent concert-goers at the Route 91 Harvest Country Festival in Las Vegas. A gunman fired automatic weapons from the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino, onto the packed crowd below him.
2. Officers identified the lone gunman as Stephen Paddock who killed himself before they arrived.
3. 59 people were dead and more than 500 were injured. The incident takes its infamous place in history as our deadliest mass shooting in modern times.
4. When police searched Paddock’s hotel room and they found 42 guns. This included 23 in his hotel suite at the Mandalay Bay and 19 at his home. They also discovered some explosives and “several thousand rounds” of ammunition.
Shooting Re-ignites Gun Control Debate
Now, according to the old expression, “there’s an elephant in the room.” That awkward “elephant” is in the restaurants, break-rooms, backrooms of state legislatures, and class-rooms, any room where important issues become conversations. And that “elephant” is the issue of gun control and specifically tightening the laws on semi-automatic weapons.
The debate flamed up hotly in the first days after the shooting. In fact, when the Florida legislative session begins in 2018, law-makers will discuss several bills regarding gun law issues.
Shooting Victim Presses Lawsuit, Not Motivated by Money
In the life of every news story, there is a point where it is assumed everybody knows the most important details. Then, suddenly media is distracted by the next big thing.
However, Metts Legal realizes some of the victims will be traveling a long and arduous road to recover physically and mentally, from this violent interruption in their lives. Such a victim is Paige Gaspar. She is a 21-year-old student majoring in psychology at Sonoma State University in California.
She was one of the hundreds who was injured in the Vegas shooting. Metts Legal continues to follow her story. The reason is that she recently filed a lawsuit for negligence against MGM Resorts International.
Paige Gasper: Can a Lawsuit be a Voice for the Hundreds of Others Wounded in the Shooting?
Her lawsuit tells her story concisely, saying, “A bullet pierced Paige Gasper’s right underarm, traversed breast tissue, shattered ribs and lacerated her liver.” The lawsuit chronicles her survival in spite of pain and chaos during the terrifying tragedy. For example, she and friends tried to escape. Other concert-goers trampled her in panic.
However, another bystander helped her hide behind a dumpster. Then she and other wounded got into a truck which transported them out of the chaos to Spring Valley Hospital Medical Center. There she endured several surgeries. She is currently continuing to recover in California.
Shooting Victim’s Lawsuit Places Blame: Hotel, Promoters and Bump Stock Company
In addition to MGM Resorts, Paige Gasper named the estate of gunman Stephen Paddock, the man who fired the shots. Indeed, there hardly seems a more grievous way to enact deliberate and callous personal injury than raining bullets down upon an unsuspecting crowd with an automatic weapon.
However, in addition to the shooter, Paige Gasper has concentrated her lawsuit on the companies who, “have a responsibility to keep the people who are on their properties at their events safe,” as quoted by Michelle Tuegel.
Michelle Tuegel is one of the Texas attorneys who will represent Gasper in her suit. She added, “There are people who are not going to have their voices heard, but Paige wants to be that voice.”
One of the issues is the video camera that the gunman allegedly installed in the peephole of his suite. Like a good, competitive personal injury lawyer, Tuegel questioned, “How did the hotel not know about that? Why wasn’t that a red flag?”
A Suite of Honor: For Those Whose Lives Were Lost in the Shooting
As people began to come out of mourning, they began murmuring questions instead of condolences. The lawyer stated, “The company can talk about hearts and prayers, but this lawsuit is about action and answers. Paige wants answers.”
Her lawsuit also names Live Nation Entertainment Inc., Mandalay Corp. and Slide Fire Solutions LP. (Slide Fire Solutions is a company which makes bump stock devices. Authorities have revealed that Paddock used such “bump stocks” to transform semi-automatic weapons into fully automatic weapons.)
A Six Minute Question in the Shooting
The timeline has become a significant issue in this case. There is a critical 6-minute gap between the time of the shooting of security guard Jesus Campos Gasper and the spraying of bullets down on the concert-goers.
Chad Pinkerton, another Texas lawyer for Paige Gasper, explained, “That six minutes was crucial. Those people that were killed and injured deserved to have those six minutes to protect them.” said Chad Pinkerton, a Texas attorney representing Gasper.
Furthermore, the lawsuit establishes negligence counts against the hotel for not “checking people coming into the hotel, not keeping watch in the hallways and allowing Paddock to bring nearly two dozen guns to his room, set up his own surveillance system and open his windows..”
How the Suit Blames MGM for the Mass Shooting
Perhaps his comment will be underscored by multiple testimonies of eye-witnesses to the chaos. This involved aimless running and lack of security during the Las Vegas shooting.
The lawyers arguing Gasper’s case will undoubtedly state that “MGM should have responded more promptly to news of Campos’ shooting, but “hotel security should have noticed something was amiss on several occasions.” The lawsuit, in fact, alledges, “MGM’s negligence enabled one of its guests “to commit a mass shooting unencumbered.”
Preventing Another Shooting—How a Lawsuit Could Help
Both Chad Pinkerton and Las Vegas attorney Nathan Morris claim Paige Gasper’s lawsuit presents an “opportunity to learn.” Gasper and her lawyers believe that the investigative data revealed in her suit might help promotion companies like Live Nation prevent similar shootings from happening again.
Paige Gasper and her lawyers hope lawsuit investigations will help festival promoters to create a safer environment for event attendees. They conclude, companies can provide better security protocols for concerts and crowds. Live Nation is named in the suit for these alleged behaviors:
1. They allegedly failed to “build and mark” adequate emergency exits.
2. The company neglected to train its employees in emergency protocols.
3. They failed to plan emergency evacuation procedures.
4. And they made no arrangements for an announcer to use the sound system to provide emergency instructions in the chaos.
Accusations and Allegations Proliferate in Shooting Investigations
Nevada Attorney Chad Pinkerton alleged, “People were left unknowing, figuring out on their own, how to escape,” Pinkerton said. “People can do horrible things. That is the America we live in… And now what we can do is plan for it. By failing to plan for it, we put a lot of people in danger. We can do a better job.”
After the initial announcement of the Gasper lawsuit, MGM spokeswoman Debra DeShong read a responding statement. The statement communicated the genuine pain felt by the owners and managers of MGM properties. They said in part…”Out of respect for the victims, we are not going to try this case in the public domain”.. “We will give our response through the appropriate legal channels.”
Take Aways on the Shooting from a Sister City
The Las Vegas vigils are over. The candles are all burnt out. But the legal issues burn brightly as lawsuits like Paige Gasper’s probe into questions and responsibilities. In Orlando, the candles from the Pulse shooting are cold and gone. However, the memories of the lives lost burn brightly. And now these two cities share a tragic kinship.
Here in Orlando, there is no doubt that news of the Las Vegas shooting hit very close to home. Less than a year ago this city mourned the loss of 49 lives in the Pulse Nightclub shooting. John Mina, Orlando Chief of Police, stated, “We are thinking of all those affected by the horrific mass shooting in Las Vegas.” Mina added, “This community, and the men and women of OPD, know all too well the anguish that is gripping the residents, visitors and law enforcement community in Las Vegas.”
And, with pride in our city, we of Metts Legal acknowledge the helpful and supportive response from Orlando. Orlando officials offered help, expertise and support, as soon as they had reports of the LasVegas shooting. Orlando United Assistance Center spokeswoman Ashley Blasewitz’s commented, “We know what it’s like to endure such tragedy.. “And it’s at this time, it’s important to remember that support is available.”
Paige Gasper’s Lawsuit With a Message
As yet, the damages sought by the lawyers on Gasper’s behalf has not been put into a dollar amount. Tuegel has stated that it was too early in the process “for Gasper to quantify the amount of damages.” She is more focused on preventing more shootings than she is on monetary gain.
Gasper’s mother, Heather Selkin, said the “change for safety needs to happen to honor those lives lost.
She added, “We are a simple and humble family and money is not the driving force of us asking us to be heard.” She added poignantly, “When we buy a ticket to an event, we need to know that our safety is considered.”
Thank you for reading the Metts Legal blog. We will keep you posted on Florida gun control legislation and the outcome of Paige Gasper’s lawsuit.