ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:
The company that owns Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas has named victims of last year's massacre as defendants in a lawsuit. MGM Resorts International is not seeking money from those victims. Instead, this lawsuit asks a court to declare that the company is not liable for the shooting. The gunman stayed at Mandalay Bay and shot hundreds of people from a window of the resort. They were attending a music festival down below. Catherine Lombardo is a lawyer representing some of the shooting victims. And she joins us now. Welcome.
CATHERINE LOMBARDO: Thank you.
SHAPIRO: What's your reaction to the suit?
LOMBARDO: We are surprised and shocked. It's deplorable that MGM is filing lawsuits against our clients and the 22,000 innocent victims who were there at the concert on October 1.
SHAPIRO: You say 22,000 victims. I just want to be clear. There were some 800 people injured, 58 killed. Twenty-two-thousand is a much larger number of people who might have been emotionally affected by this.
LOMBARDO: That's right. They've all suffered trauma. It's emotional trauma. And let me tell you, Ari. They have suffered such deep trauma the likes of which we had never seen before.
SHAPIRO: I understand how profound the physical and emotional pain of this shooting was. But the central question of the lawsuit seems to be should the company that owns Mandalay Bay be held accountable. And MGM only filed this after victims, including some of your clients, sued the company. Why hold the hotel responsible for what a guest did in one of its rooms?
LOMBARDO: MGM, who owns Mandalay Bay, is absolutely responsible, absolutely liable and negligent. MGM let the shooter come into their hotel. They had the valet guys unload his luggage. That luggage was filled with an arsenal of high-powered assault weapons and thousands of rounds of ammunition and power tools. He brought in over 20 huge heavy bags over a three- or four-day period.
SHAPIRO: Are you saying the hotel should have X-rayed every guest's bags or that his particular bags should have been searched?
LOMBARDO: Yes and yes. No and no. And let me explain why. Ever since the 9/11 attacks, the Las Vegas casino industry has been in training with the Department of Homeland Security and the FBI prior to this event on October 1 of 2017. They've all received active shooter training. In that training, they were told how to detect a potential active shooter.
SHAPIRO: You point out that Las Vegas casinos, including Mandalay Bay, were trained by the Department of Homeland Security. And in this countersuit, MGM says that's part of the reason they should not be liable. In 2002, Congress passed something called the SAFETY Act, which offers companies legal protection if they've used anti-terrorism services approved by Homeland Security. Why do you believe that in this case that does not protect them from lawsuits?
LOMBARDO: The SAFETY Act is being misinterpreted and misapplied here. The SAFETY Act was created for a terrorist attack. They will not be able to prove that the SAFETY Act applies here. It's just not appropriate. And it's not going to hold up in court.
SHAPIRO: We asked MGM Resorts International for comment. And they sent us a statement that says, in part, from the day of this tragedy, we have focused on the recovery of those impacted by the despicable act of one evil individual. And the statement goes on. Years of drawn-out litigation and hearings are not in the best interest of victims, the community and those still healing. How do you respond to that?
LOMBARDO: It is so disingenuous. It is a publicity ploy. And it's just incomprehensible how they think this was a good idea. Let me tell you what's happening now. The victims of the shooting are coming out strong, in groups, powerful. They are mad. And they're coming forward like never before. And they're saying things like boycott MGM.
SHAPIRO: Catherine Lombardo is a lawyer who represents some of the victims of last year's shooting in Las Vegas, speaking to us by Skype. Thanks for joining us today.
LOMBARDO: Thank you.
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