LOS ANGELES (CBSLA/AP) — Two years after the Las Vegas massacre — the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history — attorneys for the victims Thursday announced that they’ve reached a settlement to resolve lawsuits that’s expected to pay between $735 million and $800 million.
An estimated 4,500 people will be part of the settlement with MGM Resorts International, whose size will depend on the exact number of plaintiffs who take part.
It is the third largest settlement in U.S. history, and the first ever mass shooting settlement paid by a company, attorneys said at a news conference in downtown Los Angeles. About 65 law firms were involved in reaching it.
“As we all know, there’s an epidemic of mass shootings in this country,” attorney Kevin Boyle told reporters. “This is the first time a company has stepped up and paid the victims.”
The entire payout process must be completed by late 2020 under the terms of the agreement.
On Oct. 1, 2017, country music star Jason Aldean was performing at the Route 91 Harvest festival on the Las Vegas Strip when 64-year-old gunman Stephen Paddock opened fire on the crowd of 22,000 people from a hotel room on the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay hotel. 58 people died and hundreds were wounded. Nearly half the victims were from Southern California.
After Paddock killed himself, police found 23 assault-style weapons in the room. There is still no known motive.
Hundreds of lawsuits have been filed against MGM Resorts, which owns both Mandalay Bay Hotel and the Las Vegas Village, the site where the concert was taking place.
Boyle said the financial implications moving forward for companies of potentially being liable in mass shootings could compel them to begin pressuring lawmakers into gun control legislation.
“So now that we have companies realizing they could be financially responsible for these shootings, we’re hoping that steps are gonna be taken, and pressure is going to be applied to the right government people to stop this madness,” Boyle said. “That’s what the families really want, and that’s what we think the settlement is going to help achieve.”
Furthermore, insurance companies are going to be paying the bulk of these settlements, Boyle explained, adding that it may spur them to gun control action as well.
“If insurance companies are going to realize they’re gonna have to pay money for these mass shootings, I have a feeling they’re gonna start supporting politicians who want to stop the mass shootings,” Boyle said.
The negotiation lasted about a year-and-a-half, said attorney Mark Robinson, who discussed the lawsuit that MGM had brought against hundreds of victims in July 2018 as a legal strategy in an attempt to protect the company from liability.
“They did sue the victims…After we spoke on that, they came around. They actually decided, ‘look, we’re gonna resolve this thing.'” Robinson said.
Independent third-party administrators will divide up the funds among the approximately 4,500 victims, Boyle said. The law firms have no say in how the money is divvyed up.
“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,” said Jim Murren, Chairman and CEO of MGM Resorts, in a statement. “This agreement with the Plaintiffs’ Counsel is a major step, and one that we hoped for a long time would be possible. We have always believed that prolonged litigation around these matters is in no one’s best interest. It is our sincere hope that this agreement means that scenario will be avoided.”
Tuesday marked the two-year anniversary of the shooting. In Corona, a vigil was held where the names of those who were killed were read and candles were lit in their memory.
(© Copyright 2019 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)