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Good news for Route 91 Harvest Festival victims: Nevada Supreme Court denies reconsideration of landmark Humphries decision

Posted by Neil Shouse | Apr 27, 2018 | 0 Comments

Today, the Nevada Supreme Court may have made it easier for victims of the October 1st Las Vegas Massacre to recover damages from the MGM Resorts. The Court denied New York, New York's petition to rehear the landmark case Humphries v. New York, New York. This case seems to lower the bar for proving that a hotel was negligent in protecting its patrons. Specifically, the court in Humphries said:

NRS 651.015 precludes [owner or innkeeper] liability unless the wrongful act that caused the injuries was foreseeable...a wrongful act is not foreseeable unless the owner or innkeeper failed to exercise due care for the safety of the patron or other person on the premises or had notice or knowledge of prior incidents of similar wrongful acts on the premises ... Foreseeability based on the failure to exercise due care does not depend solely on notice or knowledge that a specific wrongful act would occur, but instead is about "the basic minimum precautions that are reasonably expected of an owner or innkeeper." ... And foreseeability based on notice or knowledge of "[p]rior incidents of similar wrongful acts," ... requires a case-by-case analysis of similar wrongful acts, including, without limitation, the level of violence, location of attack, and security concerns implicated. (Humphries v. New York, New York, 133 Nev. Advance Opinion 77 (2017))

MGM owns Mandalay Bay and well as Las Vegas Village (the 15-acre site of the Route 91 Harvest Festival). So MGM is the obvious defendant in personal injury lawsuits arising out of the shooting. The big question is how liable is MGM for the atrocity?

As with all property owners, MGM has the duty to take all reasonable measures to protect its property from all foreseeable dangers. Fortunately for Vegas Massacre victims, Humphries takes a broad view of what is foreseeable...

Plaintiffs need not prove that MGM foresaw the shooter unleashing bullets from the Mandalay Bay or that any similar incidents occurred previously at Mandalay Bay. Instead, under Humphries plaintiffs simply have to demonstrate that a similar incident occurred somewhere, which then should have put MGM on notice to try to prevent it from happening on its own premises.

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The Vegas Massacre may seem like an unusual occurrence, but there have been other incidents where murderers unleashed their firearms from high-rises. Two examples are the 1966 shooting from the University of Texas Tower and the 1976 shooting from the Holiday Inn's 26th floor in Wichita. Considering Mandalay Bay is a high-rise that overlooks spaces where thousands of people may gather, MGM arguably should have foreseen it was a ripe location for a mass murder. The Route 91 Harvest Festival patrons were like sitting ducks for any person with murderous intentions.

A few ways that MGM might have been negligent include the following:

  • Not screening luggage
  • Not having firearm-sniffing dogs at the entrances;
  • Not having window breakage detectors;
  • Not having shatter-proof glass windows;
  • Not having gunfire-sound detectors;
  • Not requiring maids to check rooms every few hours;
  • Not having police on the scene more quickly;
  • Not having a better communication infrastructure between hotel security and police;
  • Not providing more Las Vegas Village exits;
  • Not providing more Las Vegas Village security;
  • Not having (more) medics and ambulances standing by at the Route 91 Harvest Festival; and/or
  • Not providing better emergency procedures for concerts

Because the festival was within close range of tall buildings from where any gun-toting psychopath could rain down bullets, the Vegas Massacre was possibly foreseeable under Humphries and therefore should never have happened but for MGM's negligence.

Learn more about how our Las Vegas personal injury attorneys may help victims recover damages for the Route 91 Harvest Festival shooting.

About the Author

Neil Shouse

Southern California DUI Defense attorney Neil Shouse graduated with honors from UC Berkeley and Harvard Law School (and completed additional graduate studies at MIT).

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