The company that owns the Las Vegas hotel where a gunman opened fire from his room onto a country music festival two years ago, killing 58 and wounding hundreds of others, agreed on Thursday to pay up to $800 million to settle lawsuits filed by victims.
MGM Resorts International, which owns the hotel, Mandalay Bay, announced the settlement, ending what had become a closely watched case about liability in mass shootings.
The killer, Stephen Paddock, holed up inside his room on the 32nd floor with a cache of weapons and fired at thousands of music fans as the night’s final concert began. It was the deadliest mass shooting in modern American history.
Thursday’s settlement appears to resolve litigation that had raised novel and significant issues of law, including how culpable large companies and property owners are in mass-casualty attacks.
While there is often litigation after mass shootings — such as lawsuits that parents filed against the companies that manufactured and sold the semiautomatic rifle used in the 2012 massacre at an elementary school in Newtown, Conn. — legal experts said the scope and nature of the legal issues raised in the MGM case were without precedent.
Faced with potentially hundreds of lawsuits, MGM sued more than 1,000 victims in July 2018, in an aggressive but untested strategy to short-circuit the cases and shield itself from liability.
Robert Eglet, one of the lawyers for the victims, said on Thursday that the settlement would be in the range of $735 million to $800 million and would cover nearly all of the lawsuits and claims against MGM related to the massacre.
“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,” Mr. Eglet said in a statement, adding that the deal “represents good corporate citizenship” on the part of MGM.
Another lawyer for the plaintiffs, Craig Eiland, said that the settlement was expected to cover up to 4,500 people, which he said would include everything “from death cases all the way down to those who had PTSD.”
Passing the two-year statute of limitations for filing new claims — which happened this week — was critical to finalizing the settlement, Mr. Eiland added.
Depending on the settlement’s final cost, all or nearly all of the money paid to the victims will come from MGM’s insurers. The company’s coverage limit for this case was $751 million, so the most MGM will have to pay would be $49 million.
An independent claims administrator, who will need to be approved by a judge, will review medical bills and other expenses, as well as the circumstances of each victim, before deciding how much each will receive.
It was not immediately known whether any of the victims who have filed claims will opt out of the settlement and instead take their cases to trial. How many eventually agree to participate in the settlement will determine the precise amount that MGM’s insurers — and possibly the company — will end up paying. The company predicted that the process would be completed by the end of 2020.
On Thursday, MGM’s chief executive, Jim Murren, called the agreement “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.”
At first, MGM responded with a hardball legal strategy when claims poured in from the injured and the relatives of the dead, who accused the company of negligence in allowing Mr. Paddock to stockpile high-powered rifles and thousands of rounds of ammunition in his hotel room.