(CN) – Nearly two years to the day after the massacre at a country music festival in Las Vegas, casino giant MGM Resorts has reached a settlement worth up to $800 million with about 2,500 victims.
Lead attorney for the victims Robert Eglet with the firm Eglet Adams called the agreement a “milestone in the recovery process” from the mass shooting on Oct. 1, 2017, at MGM’s Mandalay Bay resort. The massacre remains the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history.
The settlement is expected to be between $735 million and $800 million, depending on the number of claimants, Eglet said.
"While nothing will be able to bring back the lives lost or undo the horrors so many suffered on that day, this settlement will provide fair compensation for thousands of victims and their families,” Eglet said in a statement Thursday.
Eglet said an independent claims administrator would be appointed by the federal court.
In a statement, MGM Resorts CEO Jim Murren said, “Our goal has always been to resolve these matters so our community and the victims and their families can move forward in the healing process. This agreement with the plaintiffs’ counsel is a major step, and one that we hoped for a long time would be possible.”
Fifty-eight people were killed and nearly 1,000 suffered injuries when Stephen Paddock opened fire from the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay hotel and casino, which looked out on the Route 91 Harvest Festival.
Police and the FBI say Paddock – a 64-year-old retired accountant and high-stakes video poker player – acted alone, firing out of windows with guns equipped with rapid-fire bump stocks before killing himself as officers reached his room. Paddock did not leave a note or a manifesto, and authorities closed investigations without identifying a motive for the attack.
Plaintiffs accused MGM, which in addition to owning Mandalay Bay also owned the concert venue across Las Vegas Boulevard, of failing to adequately protect the 22,000 people attending the festival. They noted findings that Paddock spent several days amassing an arsenal of assault-style weapons and ammunition in the two-room suite.
In July 2008, survivors blasted MGM for filing a pre-emptive lawsuit against them. The company claimed it could not be held liable for the massacre because its security provider, Contemporary Services, is approved by the Department of Homeland Security under the Safety Act. The obscure law, passed by Congress in 2002 after the 9/11 terror attacks, offers a shield from liability for companies involved in security defense of terrorism situations.
At a press conference announcing the settlement Thursday, Eglet said he was frustrated when MGM filed the pre-emptive suit. He also said he didn't believe the entertainment giant's attorneys when they said they wanted to consolidate the victims' lawsuits.
"I was wrong," Eglet said. "They proved that to me in the first few weeks of mediation."
This past May, MGM told federal regulators any settlement could reach $800 million. Eglet said mediation took eight months.
Both sides finalized the settlement on Sept. 30 but held off announcing it so the news did not overshadow the second anniversary of the massacre.
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