Along with unimaginable terror, sadness and anger, the shooting massacre in Las Vegas brings about many questions that may take months or years to answer. The most obvious societal questions are what could have been done to stop this shooter and what can be done to prevent someone like him from doing the same thing? While our political leaders tussle with those questions and lobbyists move to effect those decisions, discussions of mental health counseling seeps into the general narrative of debate.
For the security industry this tragedy brings about questions that may never be answered. The prime question being what realistic measures could security teams at the Mandalay Bay Hotel and Route 91 Harvest Festival have taken to prevent this from occurring. Is there anything that could have been done to prevent this horrible tragedy by those two entities? Could and should hotels in major metropolitan cities where there is a high density population start adding metal detectors in the lobby? Do organizers of outdoor concerts in the middle of densely populated urban areas have to begin employing security guards or look-outs placed on roofs? Do outdoor concert-goers now need the same protections as a high profile figure receives when visiting a city?
Some of these ideas may seem far-fetched, but consider that before Sept. 11 many of the now common security practices airlines passengers are used to would have been considered crazy prior to Sept. 11, 2001.
Forseeability of a Mass Casualty Incident
Foreseeability of a crime or incident where a person(s) is injured or killed is the most important element of litigating a negligent security case. Sometimes, for those of us personal injury trial attorneys who frequently represent someone in these cases around the country and internationally, when investigating whether the harm caused to our client was foreseeable we rely on a crime grid or 911 call log to establish evidentiary pattern. Unfortunately, due to recent events, you can now look no further than the all-too often high profile tragedy or mass shooting.
One example was Navas v. Regal Cinemas. Our team earned a jury verdict against a Miami Beach movie theater in a negligent security case involving a client who was prematurely injured by a stampeding crowd frantically exiting a theater. The tidal wave of movie patrons was the result of a suspicious man who began screaming during the Batman movie, “The Dark Knight Rises” less than two weeks after the mass shooting in Aurora, Colorado, where a gunman killed 12 people during the same movie. This is an example of real life mass tragedies across the country effecting foreseeability everywhere.
Every movie theater in the country was aware of that tragedy. Moments before the trampling of our client here in South Florida, the theater was made aware of the suspicious man walking the aisle. Nothing was done. The jury awarded our client $1.7 million. This is text book negligence, but specifically from a high profile target.
Setting the New Baseline Standards of Security
The unfortunate reality is that these tragedies, Las Vegas, Columbine, Aurora, the Fort Lauderdale airport shooting, Sandy Hook and so on, could, should and sometimes do lead to security changes. At the very least they place those responsible for the safety of guests and their patrons—from stadiums to malls to hotels—on notice. Many times action is not adequately taken by these businsesses until after a high profile tragedy. The shame is that it takes a series of negligent security civil actions before a technology is developed or new security practice is adopted before real change is made.
But those answers don’t come without the prime question. And by the facts we know as of the publishing date of this article, this massacre in Las Vegas may be the first time in recent history that “what types of reasonable security measures can be taken to prevent this” is an unanswerable question. We pray it is not.