First, some background on Humphries: Back in 2010, a California couple was assaulted at the New York, New York casino in Las Vegas. They sued for negligence, and the trial level court dismissed the case on the grounds that New York, New York had no foreknowledge that the assault would happen. But last month in Humphries, the Nevada Supreme Court overturned the dismissal because the assault was indeed foreseeable in light of similar violent events there in the past.
The Humphries case means that negligence plaintiffs do not have to show the court that the specific event that caused their hotel injuries was foreseeable. Instead, victims need to show that a similar event happened somewhere, which should have prompted the hotel to try to prevent such an event from happening there. The pertinent text from the Humphries case is as follows:
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.” (emphasis added)… 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))
A killer raining down bullets from a high-rise location is nothing new. Just two examples include the 1966 shooting from the University of Texas Tower and the 1976 shooting from the Holiday Inn’s 26th floor in Wichita, which should put any high-rise hotel manager on notice that something similar could happen there as well. This is especially the case when the high-rise hotel overlooks areas with heavy foot-traffic, such as the concert grounds where the Harvest Festival took place. And if a high-rise shooting is foreseeable, Mandalay Bay was negligent by not taking all reasonable measures to prevent it. MGM arguably breached its duty of care and committed negligence by:
Failing to screen luggage, which would have detected the shooter’s firearms;
Failing to have break-proof glass for windows, which would have stopped the shooter’s bullets;
Failing to have glass breakage detectors, which could have alerted authorities the moment the windows broke;
Failing to have gunpowder sniffing dogs at the hotel, which could have detected the shooter’s firearms;
Failing to have sound detectors in the hotel, which could have detected the gunfire right away;
Failing to have an efficient communication system between hotel security and police, which could have expedited the police’s arrival at the shooter’s door much earlier;
Failing to check hotel rooms on a frequent basis, which might have caught the shooter building his sniper’s nest before the massacre; and/or
Failing to provide a more efficient evacuation plan for the Harvest Festival patrons, including emergency shelters, more exits, heightened security, and lower gates.
A former Los Angeles prosecutor, attorney Neil Shouse graduated with honors from UC Berkeley and Harvard Law School (and completed additional graduate studies at MIT). He has been featured on CNN, Good Morning America, Dr Phil, The Today Show and Court TV. Mr Shouse has been recognized by the National Trial Lawyers as one of the Top 100 Criminal and Top 100 Civil Attorneys.
There is no NRS section that defines “negligence” in Nevada civil cases (though NRS 193.018 does define it in criminal cases). Instead, Nevada’s definition of negligence comes from the “common law” as spelled out in various Nevada Supreme Court judicial opinions. (One example is Turner v. Mandalay Sports Entm’t, LLC, 124 Nev. 213, 180 P.3d ...
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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 ...