A California college student injured in the Oct. 1 mass shootings in Las Vegas has sued the owner of the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino Las Vegas, concert promoter Live Nation Entertainment, the Texas manufacturer of a device allowing a gun to fire rapidly, and the estate of shooter Stephen Paddock.
Paige Gasper, 21, is one of 529 individuals reportedly injured in the mass shooting at the Route 91 Harvest Festival that killed 59 people when Paddock allegedly fired from his hotel room to the outdoor concert venue.
Gasper is represented by lawyers from Abraham Watkins Nichols Sorrels Agosto Aziz in Houston, Hunt & Tuegel in Waco and The Pinkerton Law Firm in Houston, and Bighorn Law in Las Vegas. Plaintiffs attorney Mo Aziz, a partner at Abraham Watkins, said he believes Gasper’s suit is the first stemming from the shooting to be filed against MGM Resorts. The complaint was filed Tuesday in district court in Clark County, Nevada.
According to Gasper v. MGM Resorts International, Gasper was attending the music festival at the Las Vegas Village when she was struck by a bullet believed to be from a weapon fired by Paddock, who was at that time spraying the crowd with bullets from his 32nd floor room in the Mandalay Bay. She alleges friends tried to help her escape, but she was trampled by the crowd before a “good samaritan” helped her take cover behind a metal trash dumpster, and another put her in a truck that was driven by a third individual to a hospital.
Gasper alleges she was the only survivor among the passengers in that truck. She alleges the bullet entered under her right underarm, went through right breast tissue, shattered ribs and lacerated her liver before exiting out her right side.
Aziz said he got involved in the case at the request of Michelle Simpson Tuegal, a partner at Hunt & Tuegel who is a friend of the Gasper family. He said he asked Chad Pinkerton of The Pinkerton Law Firm to get involved because they have worked together on similar litigation, such as a suit filed on behalf of victims of the deadly fertilizer plant explosion in 2013 in West, Texas. Bighorn Law is local counsel, Aziz said.
Gasper brings a negligence cause of action against MGM Resorts International, the owner or manager of the Mandalay Bay and subsidiary Mandalay Corp., and unknown John Doe employees or agents who contributed to circumstances that enabled Paddock to “commit a mass shooting unencumbered.”
In addition to seeking damages to cover her significant medical bills now and in the future, Aziz said Gasper and her family filed the suit to help spur some changes in security at music festivals.
“They are just concerned about concert security in this day and age when we have so many risks,” he said.
Gasper seeks a minimum of $15,000 in actual and punitive damages.
In the complaint, Gasper claims the defendants breached their duty by failing to properly surveil people coming and going at the hotel, and among other things, by failing to respond in a timely fashion to Paddock’s shooting of Mandalay Bay security officer Jesus Campos, who was shot six minutes before Paddock started the mass shooting. The complaint also alleges the defendants breached their duty by failing to take notice of guns and ammo delivered to Paddock’s room, failing to take action against the surveillance Paddock set up outside his room, and failing to prevent or timely discover that Paddock had opened windows in his hotel room.
Gasper also brings a second negligence cause of action against MGM, Live Nation and unidentified employees or agents, alleging they breached their duty of care in connection with operation of the Route 91 Harvest Festival for such actions as failing to provide adequate exits in case of emergency and failing to train and supervise employees in a plan of action in case of an emergency.
Gasper also brings battery and intentional infliction of emotion distress causes of action against Paddock’s estate. She also brings other causes of action against Slide Fire Solutions, a Texas-based manufacturer of bump stock devices that allow guns to fire rapidly, as well as against other unidentified manufacturers and retailers of similar devices. These charges include negligence and gross negligence, strict products liability-design defect, strict products liability-manufacturing defect and strict liability manufacturing defect/failure to warn.
“Prior to the mass shooting, Paddock brought in excess of a dozen rifles, twelve bump stock devices, and hundreds of rounds of ammunition to his hotel room. Paddock’s rifles were equipped with bump stock devices which enabled him to fire bullets rapidly, mimicking automatic fire,” Gasper alleges in the complaint.
Debra DeShong, spokeswoman for MGM Resorts, said in a statement that the “tragic incident” on Oct. 1 was a “meticulously planned, evil, senseless act” and out of respect for the victims, “we are not going to try this case in the public domain and we will give our response through the appropriate legal channels.”
In a statement, Live Nation wrote that it cannot comment specifically on pending litigation. “We continue to be devastated by the tragedy at the Route 91 Festival, heartbroken for the victims, their families and the countless people forever impacted by this senseless act of violence and are cooperating fully with the active FBI investigation,” the company said.
Slide Fire Solutions did not respond to requests for comment.