Stephen Paddock, the retired accountant who killed at least 58 people at the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino in Las Vegas on Sunday night, was “slovenly” and “didn’t always make sense,” according to a lawyer whose firm ran across the shooter years earlier in an injury case he brought against another casino.
Martin “Marty” Kravitz, managing partner at Las Vegas-based Kravitz, Schnitzer & Johnson, represented Cosmopolitan Hotels & Resorts Inc. in a case Paddock brought alleging he slipped and was injured inside the casino. Kravitz told ALM that he spoke with the associate who handled the case, now at another firm, after getting calls from the media at 2 a.m. about the case.
“She said he was a nothing: He was slovenly, not the brightest guy, had a lot of ‘I don’t knows’ for answers, his story didn’t always make sense,” Kravitz said. “When we came to his deposition, he didn’t dress up. When he went to arbitration, he dressed sloppy.”
Kravitz, whose firm also represents the Mandalay Bay casino resort, said he wouldn’t be surprised if it retained him to handle any potential lawsuits. He said he sent information to the casino’s risk management department about Paddock, who was a gambler but, as NBC reported, has no known links to terrorist groups, according to an FBI statement. “They’re a little swamped over there, trying to document and get every statement within the hotel,” Kravitz said.
Paddock, 64, killed himself after firing at thousands of attendees of the Route 91 Harvest music festival from his 32nd-floor room at Mandalay Bay. In addition to the deaths, 515 people have been reported injured.
At least 10 rifles were found in Paddock’s hotel room, where he was staying since Sept. 28. But Kravitz predicted a lawsuit against the casino would be a “very difficult case to make.”
His firm, which defends MGM against crimes on the premises, handled a seminal case that involved a shooting at the Silver Nugget. In Estate of Allen Tyrone Smith Jr. v. Mahoney’s Silver Nugget, the Nevada Supreme Court found in 2011 that the casino didn’t owe a duty of care to the victim because the crime wasn’t foreseeable. The statute exempts hotel owners from civil liability if the death wasn’t foreseeable.
“That particular crime was spontaneous,” Kravitz said. “That’s very much what’s happened here.”
But, according to the same statute, hotel owners could be held liable if “there is a preponderance of evidence that the owner or keeper did not exercise due care for the safety of the patron or other person on the premises” or “failed to take reasonable precautions against the foreseeable wrongful act.”
Paddock brought the slip-and-fall case in 2012. His lawyer, Jared Richards, a managing partner of Clear Counsel Law Group in Henderson, Nevada, did not return a call for comment. Jennifer Taylor, the associate who represented the Cosmopolitan, who is now at Ford, Walker, Haggerty & Behar in Las Vegas, also did not respond to a request for comment.
But Kravitz said he still remembered the security camera video from the case.
“He was wearing some crappy flip flops and about 20 people had walked back and forth in the area before he fell, and none of them stepped on anything,” he said. There was nothing on the floor, and Paddock couldn’t say what he slipped on.
In the video, he said, Paddock was “wearing sloppy clothing, carrying a bag with a beer in it.”
The case moved into binding arbitration with a finding of no liability in 2014, he said.
“It was one of those hundreds of ‘marvelous’ lawsuits we get all the time,” he said.