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FILE PHOTO: An example of a bump stock that attaches to a semi-automatic rifle to increase the firing rate is seen at Good Guys Gun Shop in Orem, Utah, U.S. on October 4, 2017. REUTERS/George Frey/File Photo(reuters_tickers)
By Tina Bellon
NEW YORK (Reuters) - A California woman wounded in the mass shooting at a Las Vegas music festival has filed a lawsuit against the operators of the hotel where the gunman fired from, the festival organizers and the maker of a device that allowed weapons to be fired at a near-automatic rate.
Paige Gasper, 21, said in the lawsuit that the defendants' negligence led to the life-threatening injuries she suffered when a bullet shattered her ribs and lacerated her liver. The lawsuit was filed on Tuesday in Clark County, Nevada.
Stephen Paddock, the 64-year-old gunman, fired into the festival crowd from a 32nd-floor hotel suite at the Mandalay Bay hotel on Oct. 1, killing 58 people and injuring hundreds more. Paddock killed himself before the police stormed his suite.
Gasper's lawsuit says MGM Resorts International and its subsidiary Mandalay Corp. [MGGMR.UL], which own the hotel, failed to properly monitor Paddock's activities and responded too late to the shooting of a hotel security officer. Paddock fired at the security officer six minutes before opening fire on the crowd below.
Gasper said the festival organizer, Live Nation Entertainment, Inc., was negligent for failing to provide adequate exits and properly train staff for an emergency.
The companies did not immediately reply to a request for comment.
Legal experts said claims such as Gasper's would face an uphill battle.
Victor Schwartz, an attorney specializing in injury cases, said that in order to hold MGM liable, victims would have to show the company could have foreseen the shooting and taken steps to prevent it.
That would be difficult for such an extreme event, he said.
Gasper's lawsuit also accused Slide Fire Solutions, the maker of bump stock devices that were used by the gunman, of negligence, design and manufacturing defects. The devices are legal and allow semiautomatic rifles to operate as if they were fully automatic machine guns, which are heavily restricted in the United States.
Such claims would have to survive a law passed by U.S. Congress in 2005 that shields manufacturers of firearms, component parts or ammunition from liability if their products are used to commit a crime. Legal experts said it was not clear whether the component parts definition applied to bump stock devices.
Slide Fire did not respond to requests for comment.
In a separate lawsuit filed over the weekend, a group of plaintiffs accused the makers of bump stocks of negligence for inflicting emotional distress on thousands of people. [L2N1ML228]
Gasper also alleged battery and the intentional infliction of emotional distress against the estate of Paddock, arguing the shooter acted with malice and evil intent, causing her injuries.
(Reporting by Tina Bellon; Additional reporting by Brendan Pierson; Editing by Frances Kerry)