Las Vegas shooting lawsuits stack up with 14 more filed

At least 3 other complaints were already filed since the shooting

Flowers, candles and other items surround the famous Las Vegas sign at a makeshift memorial for victims of a mass shooting Monday, Oct. 9, 2017, in Las Vegas. Stephen Paddock opened fire on an outdoor country music concert killing dozens and injuring hundreds. (AP Photo/John Locher)

CHICAGO (AP) — Legal action following the mass shooting at a Las Vegas concert is picking up with lawsuits filed Wednesday on behalf of 14 concertgoers, including some who were shot or injured trying to escape and one woman who is so traumatized that she has since mistaken the sound of rain for gunshots.

The hotel-casino from where Stephen Paddock fired, concert organizers and the makers and sellers of a bump stock gun accessory that enabled him to fire rapidly are named as defendants. The court filings argue that they all share blame for the worst mass shooting in recent U.S. history.

FILE – In this Oct. 4, 2017, file photo, shooting instructor Frankie McRae demonstrates the grip on an AR-15 rifle fitted with a “bump stock” at his 37 PSR Gun Club in Bunnlevel, N.C. The Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence filed the lawsuit on Friday, Oct. 6, 2017, against the makers and sellers of “bump stocks,” which use the recoil of a semiautomatic rifle to let the finger “bump” the trigger, allowing the weapon to fire continuously. The devices were used by Stephen Paddock when he opened fire on a country music festival in Las Vegas, killing dozens of people. (AP Photo/Allen G. Breed, File)

The 14 civil complaints, filed together in state court in Las Vegas, follow at least three others filed since Paddock opened fire Oct. 1 from the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay hotel and casino, killing 58 people and injuring hundreds of others. The lawsuit seeks unspecific compensation for both “physical and mental injuries.”

The challenge for mass-shooting lawsuits is clearing a high legal bar to prove someone other than the shooter bears any responsibility. Such litigation typically drags for years and can end with victims and their families receiving little to nothing.

One of those suing, Elisha Seng, described in a phone interview haunting images she can’t dispel — of bullets thudding around her on the concert grounds and of turning to see a young woman covered in blood after being shot, clutching her throat and falling forward.

“I don’t sleep at night and, when I do, I have nightmares,” said the 46-year-old from Bartlett, Illinois, just outside Chicago. Recently, as heavy rain began to fall outside overnight, she jumped up from her bed. “I thought it was gunshots.”

Seng, who wasn’t physically injured, returned to work as a sales representative, but said she quickly tires from her lack of sleep. Going to concert or sports halls can prompt flashbacks. She recently attended a Chicago Blackhawks game and found herself nervously calculating the best escape routes should someone open fire.

A Chicago law firm helped to prepare the filings, which include several plaintiffs from the Chicago area. Victims named in the suits also include a California man, Anthony Crisci, who was rushed to a hospital with a gunshot wound in a truck crowded with dead and injured.

Among deficiencies at the concert venue were poorly marked exits, Wednesday’s filings say. And the hotel, it says, should have had gunfire-location devices that pinpoint where shots are coming from.

Stephen Paddock
FILE – This undated file photo provided by Eric Paddock shows his brother, Las Vegas gunman Stephen Paddock. Police initially said Stephen Paddock stopped firing on the music festival concert crowd below to shoot through his door and wound a Mandalay Bay security guard who was outside. On Monday, Oct. 9, 2017, they said the guard actually was wounded before Paddock started the massacre. (Courtesy of Eric Paddock via AP, File)

The 64-year-old Paddock, who killed himself just before his room was stormed, is also named in a bid to seize assets from his estate.

Paddock was able to use VIP status conferred on him as a high-stakes gambler to stockpile more than 20 rifles in his hotel suite, including by using exclusive access to a service elevator over days, the filings sat. They argue what should have been routine checks of Paddock’s bags and his room would have revealed his growing arsenal.

The filings name a leading bump stock maker, Texas-based Slide Fire Solutions, as a defendant. A lead attorney, Chicago-based Antonio Romanucci, said it wasn’t yet clear which manufacturer, wholesaler or retailer made and sold the specific bump stock that Paddock used, but that the idea was to hold “the entire supply chain” responsible. Messages seeking comment from Slide Fire weren’t returned.

A Wednesday statement from MGM Resorts International, the parent company of Mandalay Bay, called the shooting “a meticulously planned, evil … act,” adding it would respond to any allegations only through “the appropriate legal channels.” Live Nation, a concert organizer named, said in a statement it can’t comment on pending litigation, adding the company remains “heartbroken for the victims.”

Bump stocks were originally created ostensibly to make it easier for people with disabilities to shoot. But the filings allege that Slide Fire geared its marketing to regular gun owners who wanted their semi-automatic rifles to mimic fully automatic weapons.

Civil cases in mass shootings are becoming increasingly common.

People run from the Route 91 Harvest country music festival after apparent gun fire was hear on October 1, 2017 in Las Vegas, Nevada. A gunman has opened fire on a music festival in Las Vegas, leaving at least 20 people dead and more than 100 injured. Police have confirmed that one suspect has been shot. The investigation is ongoing. (Photo by David Becker/Getty Images)
People run from the Route 91 Harvest country music festival after apparent gun fire was hear on October 1, 2017 in Las Vegas, Nevada. A gunman has opened fire on a music festival in Las Vegas, leaving at least 20 people dead and more than 100 injured. Police have confirmed that one suspect has been shot. The investigation is ongoing. (Photo by David Becker/Getty Images)

Romanucci has also filed a lawsuit on behalf of victims of the Pulse nightclub shooting that killed 49 people last year in Orlando, Florida. It alleges, among other things, that a security firm that once employed gunman Omar Mateen knew Mateen was mentally unstable and had threatened violence, and should have alerted authorities. Mateen was killed in a shootout with police.

The 2007 Virginia Tech campus shooting in which Seung-Hui Cho killed 32 people illustrated the difficulties posed by such lawsuits. In 2013, the Virginia Supreme Court overturned a jury verdict siding with parents of two victims who claimed the state was negligent. A statement from the state attorney general’s office at the time said the reversal showed what it had argued during years of litigation: “Cho was the lone person responsible for this tragedy.”

Cho killed himself after his rampage.

Seng said she joined the civil case to force better security at concerts and at hotels. She said she can’t fathom how a hotel-casino that devotes so many resources to catching gamblers that cheat didn’t notice Paddock bringing in high-powered weapons over a number of days.

“They can catch a person counting cards,” she said. “But they can’t catch someone carrying bags of guns.”