By Ken Ritter, AP
A court on Wednesday approved a total of $800 million in payouts from casino company MGM Resorts International and its insurers to more than 4,400 relatives and victims of the Las Vegas Strip shooting that was the deadliest in recent U.S. history.
The action makes final a deal announced earlier this month and settles dozens of lawsuits on the eve of the third anniversary of the shooting that killed 58 people and injured more than 850 at an open-air concert near the Mandalay Bay resort.
Clark County District Court Judge Linda Bell, in her brief order, cited “near-unanimous participation in the settlement among potential claimants.”
Authorities said more than 22,000 people were attending an outdoor music festival when a gunman firing military-style weapons from windows on the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay rained rapid-fire bullets into the crowd.
MGM Resorts, owner of the hotel and the concert venue, acknowledged no liability with the settlement. It will pay $49 million, while its insurance companies will pay $751 million.
“We are grateful that the decision brings families, victims and the community closer to closure,” the company said in a statement. It noted the anniversary of the Oct. 1, 2017, event, calling it “a time of great sadness and reflection.”
Memorial ceremonies are scheduled Thursday at several venues in Las Vegas, including a reading of the names of the slain beginning at 10:05 p.m. — the time the first shots rang out.
Attorney Robert Eglet, the plaintiffs’ lawyer who spent a year arranging the settlement with clients, legal firms and attorneys in at least 10 states, said amounts to be disbursed will be determined by two retired judges and he’s hopeful that payments will begin going out by the end of the year.
“There’ve been no objections and we expect no appeals,” Eglet told The Associated Press. “We’ll send out notices of the order. After 30 days the $800 million will be deposited.”
The case will be dismissed at that time, he added.
Eglet previously said that everyone involved “recognized there are no winners in long, drawn-out litigation with multiple trials where people and the community are reliving the event every time we try a case.”
A line-by-line list of victims, identified by their initials only, runs for more than 170 pages of a 225-page civil complaint filed Sept. 9 seeking compensation and punitive damages from MGM Resorts. It accused the casino company of negligence, wrongful death and liability in the 2017 shooting.
Millions of dollars could go to the most severely and permanently injured, Eglet said, depending on factors including age, number of dependents, type of injuries, previous and future medical treatment, and ability to work.
A minimum $5,000 would go to each person who filed a claim for unseen injuries and did not seek medical attention or therapy.
Administrators of the account will be retired Nevada Judge Jennifer Togliatti and retired California Judge Louis Meisinger, with help from the Virginia-based claims management legal firm BrownGreer.
Court filings in the case don’t mention the gunman, Stephen Paddock, who killed himself before police closed in.
Las Vegas police and the FBI determined the 64-year-old retired accountant and high-stakes poker player meticulously planned the attack and acted alone. They theorized he may have sought notoriety, but said they never determined a clear motive for the attack.