SSU student lawsuit names bump-stock maker and MGM

MGM Resorts, the owner of the Mandalay Bay hotel in Las Vegas, failed to respond quickly enough to stop a gunman before he started randomly shooting into an outdoor audience of 22,000 people on Oct. 1, leaving 58 dead and more than 500 injured, according to a lawsuit filed by a Sonoma State University student who was severely injured in the shooting.

The lawsuit, filed by Sonoma State senior Paige Gasper, also argues that there weren’t enough exits at the outdoor venue, which contributed to the mayhem. 

Gasper, who suffered fractured ribs and a liver laceration in the shooting, also named in the lawsuit Slide Fire, the company responsible for making the “bump stock” that the gunman reportedly used to convert some of his semiautomatic assault rifles into fully automatic weapons. A “bump stock” is a component that gun owners can attach to a firearm to increase the rapidity of its rate of fire. 

According to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, multiple bump stocks were found in the hotel room used by the shooter, Stephen Paddock, after he opened fire over the Route 91 Harvest Music Festival. He later turned one of this guns on himself.

California Sen. Dianne Feinstein has introduced a bill in Congress that would ban the sale and possession of bump-stock equipment and similar gear.

Authorities say that in roughly six minutes, Paddock shot Mandalay Bay security guard Jesus Campos before aimlessly shooting into the concert crowd from his room on the 32nd floor.

 The lawsuit questions what happened in those six minutes before the shooting and blames the hotel management and security forces for failing to react in a timely manner after he shot Campos. 

Also named in the lawsuit is concert organizer Live Nation, which Gasper is accusing of not providing adequate exits for concertgoers. 

Gasper’s lawsuit is the first to name MGM and Live Nation as defendants. While requesting $15,000 for general damages, she is also asking to be repaid the costs of the suit and attorney fees as well as general damages against Slide Fire to be determined at trial. 

In the case of Live Nation and Mandalay Bay, the lawsuit claims both “breached their duty of reasonable care” and “should have known that it was reasonably foreseeable that a breach of their duties to keep their Las Vegas Village concert venue reasonably safe… might result in catastrophic injury to concertgoers.” Gasper’s attorneys say they hope the suit can alter security procedures for both companies. 

The suit also accuses Slide Fire of altering Paddock’s rifle to be “unreasonably dangerous in that the components would allow individuals to engage in rapid fire, similar to fully automatic weapons.” Along with failing to, “provide adequate instructions regarding the operation of the bump stock devices.”

Gasper filed the lawsuit on Oct. 10. Gasper’s attorneys say they are in the process of conducting an independent investigation. According to her attorney, Michelle Simpson Tuegel, authorities granted the team access to the concert venue last week and gave them the day to investigate the scene. Using the photos and videos collected, they say they will create a 3D diagram of the crime scene to help determine what happened the night of the shooting, said Tuegel. 

Tuegel says it could take up to a year or more before they complete the case.     

For Gasper’s case, timing and how long it is taking to get information is their biggest challenge. “We need more information in order to start the healing process,” Tuegel said, “To understand what happened, why it happened and what could’ve been done to prevent it from happening.” 

Gasper, a Folsom resident, declined to comment. 

“I am just trying to heal both physically and mentall,” she said.