The owners of the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino have filed a federal lawsuit against the victims of the Las Vegas Shooting, arguing that they are not liable. However, their argument against liability is based on a 2002 federal law that limits liability for terrorist attacks.
On October 1, 2017, police and FBI say alleged shooter Stephen Paddock opened fire from his 32nd floor suite at the Mandalay Bay onto a crowd of thousands of concertgoers who were attending the Route 91 Harvest Music Festival.
Paddock, who has been deemed a “lone shooter” by disgraced Clark County Sheriff Joe Lombardo and Aaron Rouse, the Special Agent in Charge of Las Vegas FBI, killed 58 people and injured nearly 900 people.
Mandalay Bay is owned and operated by MGM Resorts. The owners of Mandalay Bay filed a lawsuit in federal courts in both Nevada and California on Monday, claiming they have no liability for the October 1 mass shooting.
According to Robert Eglet, a Las Vegas lawyer who is representing several of the Las Vegas shooting victims, Mandalay Bay’s lawsuit only serves as a way to take the lawsuits out of state court and place them into federal court instead. Eglet described MGM’s actions as a form of “judge shopping” and argues that they are highly “unethical”.
“I’ve never seen a more outrageous thing, where they sue the victims in an effort to find a judge they like,” Eglet said. “It’s just really sad that they would stoop to this level.”
An MGM spokeswoman said, “The Federal Court is an appropriate venue for these cases and provides those affected with the opportunity for a timely resolution. Years of drawn out litigation and hearings are not in the best interest of victims, the community and those still healing.”
Despite the fact that LVMPD, FBI, and Mandalay Bay have remained adamant in their claims that Paddock was a lone shooter who had no accomplices and that the mass shooting was not an act of terrorism, MGM’s lawsuit claims the Casino is not liable for Paddock’s actions, citing the Support Anti-Terrorism by Fostering Effective Technologies Act of 2002, a federal law that was enacted after the September 11, 2001 World Trade Center attacks, in which Muslim terrorists killed nearly 3,000 people in New York City. The federal law, which was passed after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the deadliest terror attack to ever take place on US soil, limits liability for terrorist attacks when anti-terrorism technologies have be deployed.
In order to use the defense of the Support Anti-Terrorism by Fostering Effective Technologies Act, MGM Resorts would be required to prove that the Las Vegas Shooting was an act of terrorism. However, on October 2, 2017, the day immediately following the Las Vegas shooting, Aaron Rouse, the Special Agent in Charge of the Las Vegas FBI declared that the shooting was not an act of terrorism after ISIS claimed responsibility and proclaimed Paddock as a soldier of Islam. “We have determined, to this point, no connection to an international terrorist group,” Rouse said.
It has been nearly nine months since the Las Vegas shooting, and the FBI, Sheriff Lombardo, and Mandalay Bay have all said that Paddock was a lone gunman. They have also stated that the shooting was not an act of terrorism, and that they have not been able to determine an official motive.
“If defendants were injured by Paddock’s assault, as they allege, they were inevitably injured both because Paddock fired from his window and because they remained in the line of fire at the concert. Such claims inevitably implicate security at the concert — and may result in loss to CSC,” MGM argued in the lawsuit they filed.
While MGM claims to not be liable for the shooting, evidence that has come to light over the past 9 months suggest otherwise. In the days after the Las Vegas shooting, Las Vegas Casino mogul Steve Wynn slipped up during an interview with Fox News when he revealed that Paddock brought a stockpile of weapons up to his suite through the Service elevator at Mandalay Bay, which is not supposed to be used by anyone other than hotel employees, suggesting that the hotel did in fact aid Paddock in bringing the weapons used during the shooting up to his room.
When it was revealed that Paddock had used the service elevator to transport his arsenal, MGM Resorts vowed to improve security so that nobody could ever again access the service elevators at their resorts. However, only three months after the shooting, investigative journalist Laura Loomer filmed an undercover video inside Mandalay Bay service elevator as a non guest, in which she transported herself, a black duffel bag, and a hard black gun case with an older man into the hotel, through the lobby, and up and down the service elevator to the 32nd floor nearly four times in a row. The video proved that security had not been increased, and that the elevator which Paddock himself used had still not been secured. Following the release of Loomer’s video, MGM released a statement. “We are carefully reviewing the video in our constant efforts to evaluate and refine our security procedures,” a statement from MGM Resorts read.
MGM’s claim in which they deny liability is problematic for numerous reasons. The security company at the Route 91 concert that MGM has cast blame upon was hired by MGM Resorts. The concert itself also took place on MGM property. Not only is Mandalay Bay an MGM property, but the land on which the festival took place, known as the “Las Vegas Village”, is also owned by MGM.
It is also worth noting that the security guards that were hired for the festival by MGM were unarmed, as MGM Resorts and venues are gun free zones that have little to no armed security guards.
MGM claims the victims’ lawsuits implicate Contemporary Services Corp, the security company hired by MGM, because the claims involve concert security, training, emergency response, and evacuation. However, a quick overview of civilian and police body cam video filmed the night of the shooting reveals that concert goers themselves were barricaded inside the MGM venue, which suggests that MGM, not CSC, is liable since they are responsible as the owner of the venue and property for ensuring that attendees know how to evacuate in the event of an emergency.
The lawsuit, which drew enormous amounts of backlash against MGM and spurred a #BoycottMGM movement on social media on Monday, is directly targeting shooting survivors and family members of the 58 slain victims, many of whom have filed lawsuits against the Casino conglomerate.
“MGM has done something that in over 30 years of practice is the most outrageous thing I have ever seen,” Eglet said. “They have sued the families of victims while they’re still grieving over their loved ones.”
As of the current date, the Las Vegas shooting is the deadliest mass shooting in US history. While Sheriff Lombardo and the FBI claim that Paddock was a lone shooter and that the shooting was not an act of terrorism, it appears as though Congress has been told otherwise. On March 15, investigative journalist Laura Loomer exclusively reported that members of Congress had been briefed on Las Vegas shooting intel and evidence that suggests ISIS was involved in the shooting, and that the FBI failed to properly investigate other suspects and their ties to terrorism. Loomer’s exclusive report was later confirmed by One America News Network (OANN) three months later.
However, despite confirmation of the report that Congress was briefed on, the FBI and LVMPD have refused to further comment on the Las Vegas shooting, even going as far as instituting a ban on all LVMPD and FBI employees from speaking about the shooting and any information relating to the events of October 1, 2017.
The FBI and LVMPD did not return Big League’s request for comment regarding whether or not they have changed their mind regarding their claims that the Las Vegas shooting was not an act of Islamic terrorism.
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Turkey Human Rights, Crackdown on Press Freedom Comes Under Renewed Scrutiny in Geneva
Last week, the UK-based International Observatory of Human Rights (IOHR)and the Press Emblem Campaign held an information meeting in Geneva, to coincide with the United Nations Human Rights Council’s Universal Periodic Review (UPR) of Turkey over hate crimes, minority, and LGBT rights, and press freedoms with a specific focus on the nation’s crackdown on these rights during the failed 2016 coup and the emergency rule that followed during which the government allegedly used its security powers to arrest thousands of people who opposed it.
Turkey’s human rights record was last reviewed in 2015 during the UPR. This was the third time in 10 years that Turkey’s record has come under review
Diplomats, minister, prominent members of Turkish media and human rights defenders – including those who have been forced into exile – were present at the event. Also in attendance was former U.S. Ambassador-at-Large for War Crimes Issues in the Office of Global Criminal Justice Ambassador Stephen Rapp. Louise Pyne Jones, head of research, International Observatory of Human Rights (IOHR) moderated the event. Two panels were held. The first was called “Press Freedom” and included Yavuz Baydar, editor-in-chief of Ahval; Evin Baris Altintas, journalist and blogger; and Massimo Frigo; senior Legal Advisor for International Commission for Jurists (ICJ). The second panel, “Human Rights Defenders,” included Dr. Sebnem Korur Fincanci; president of the Human Rights Foundation in Turkey; Nurcan Baysal, award-winning Turkish Human Rights Defender and Journalist; and Anne van Wezel, former co-chair EESC EU-Turkey Joint Consultative Committee.
Following an attempted, and failed, “coup” against the ruling Justice and Development (AKP) Party in 2016, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan accused many of his opponents and naysayers, including journalists who were critical of him and his government, of supporting terrorism and prosecuted many of them. Erdogan also suggested that the attempted coup was the work of exiled Imam Fethullah Gulen and his movement, which Turkey considers a terrorist organization. Turkey has asked for the United States to extradite Gulen. Gulen has been living in the United States in a self-imposed exile since 1999. Over 250 people died as a result of the failed coup attempt.
Soon after the coup, Turkey implemented a state of emergency (SOE) which it said: “was put into effect in order to ensure the continuity of effective implementation of the measures for the protection of the rights and freedoms of our citizens, democracy and the rule of law.” However, the AK Party’s critics have maintained that the AK Party used the umbrella of its broader emergency powers and continuously postponed ending that state of emergency, in an attempt to destroy its political opposition.
Many journalists were apprehended under this state of emergency until it was lifted on July 19, 2018. As such, for three straight years, and up until 2019, the Committee to Protect Journalists ranked Turkey as the worst jailer of journalists in the world. According to Turkish, English, and Arabic-language news site Ahval, when China jailed 48 journalists to Turkey’s 47.
Nurcan Baysal, an award-winning Kurdish Human Rights Defender, Journalist, and contributor to Ahval, said she was even cautious with the words she used on the panel discussion for fear of punishment by the Turkish government. “We are censoring ourselves because of these fears,” Baysal said. “For example, before coming here I asked myself if I should use certain words, should I use the word invasion, or should I use the word war, because today in Turkey even to say war is forbidden,” she said. “Everything that I say has an effect on not only my life but of the lives of my children and family.”
Ahval editor in chief Yavuz Baydar said, “No state or power can decide who is a journalist, it is the domain for professional organizations and should always be separate from power.”
According to the IOHR, “In the previous UPR cycle of Turkey, the Turkish government officially supported 14 recommendations related to strengthening the legal framework on freedom of expression and 5 recommendations specifically related to bringing terrorism legislation in line with international human rights standards.
Hugh Williamson, the Europe and Central Asia director at Human Rights Watch recently said, “The huge number of journalists, politicians, and perceived government critics in prison and on trial flies in the face of the Turkish government’s public statements about the state of human rights in the country “Turkey’s disregard of human rights is a disservice to its citizens, who deserve to live with dignity and freedom.”
Meanwhile, Turkey’s state-run pro-government newspaper the Daily Sabah put out propaganda about the Erdogan government writing, “U.N. Human Rights Council highlighted Turkey’s achievements in the fields of judiciary, human rights and humanitarian causes on Tuesday during a Universal Periodic Review (UPR) meeting in Geneva.”
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