Panel rejects MGM’s request to centralize shooting lawsuits

FILE - In this Oct. 3, 2017, file photo, debris litters a festival grounds across the street from the Mandalay Bay resort and casino in Las Vegas. A panel of federal judges has denied a request from casino operator MGM Resorts International to centralize 13 lawsuits stemming from last year's mass shooting in Las Vegas. The Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation issued its ruling Wednesday, Oct. 3, 2018. The company had asked the judges to centralize the cases after it filed nine lawsuits in various states in July against more than 1,900 victims. The company argues it owes nothing to survivors or families of slain victims under a 2002 federal law. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez, File)

LAS VEGAS (AP) — A panel of federal judges on Wednesday denied a request from casino operator MGM Resorts International to centralize 13 lawsuits stemming from last year’s mass shooting in Las Vegas.

The Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation in a written order said centralizing the cases would not be convenient for the parties and witnesses “or further the just and efficient conduct of this litigation.” The decision came less than a week after the panel heard arguments during a hearing in San Francisco.

MGM had asked the judges to centralize the cases after it filed nine lawsuits in various states in July against more than 1,900 victims of the Oct. 1, 2017, shooting on the Las Vegas Strip. The company is not asking for money, but argues it owes nothing to survivors or families of slain victims under a federal law enacted after 9/11.

More than 22,000 people were at an outdoor country music festival when a gunman opened fire from his casino-resort suite before killing himself. MGM owns the festival grounds and the casino-resort.

The company has said its lawsuits are meant to avoid years of costly litigation. They only targeted people who have sued the company and voluntarily dismissed their claims or have threatened to sue.

“In particular, MGM emphasizes that it has received pre-litigation hold letters from at least 63 attorneys on behalf of 2,462 individuals, and that one attorney claims that 22,000 lawsuits are expected,” the judges wrote. “Yet, only 38 negligence actions have been filed to date, and 34 of those were voluntarily dismissed. The Panel generally does not ‘take into account the mere possibility of future filings’ when considering centralization.”

The four other lawsuits addressed in the panel’s order were filed by victims. They allege negligence by MGM for failing to have adequate safety measures.

The company in a statement Wednesday said it respects the ruling and will litigate its motions in the courts where the actions are pending.

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