Las Vegas shooting victims and families could see rare restitution thanks to gunman's massive estate

Victims of mass shootings in the United States often win little or no damages from perpetrators but the Las Vegas massacre may be different because the shooter is thought to have been a wealthy man, lawyers said.

While there are often few assets to collect from the young men who typically carry out these killings, Las Vegas shooter Stephen Paddock, 64, is thought to have had multi-million-dollar investments in buildings across Texas and California.

Paddock's estate has become a target for claimants in a case where victims and their families face an uphill battle holding liable the hotel and musical festival where the shooting rampage took place.

"It definitely depends on the assets in the estate whether you pursue that claim," said Theida Salazar, a Los Angeles attorney who represented one of the victim's families in the 2015 shooting in San Bernadino, California.

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Las Vegas mass shooting survivors
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Las Vegas mass shooting survivors
Paola Bautista, 39, from Fontana, California, (R) sits in her hospital bed next to her sister Daisy Bautista at Sunrise Hospital & Medical Center after being shot at the Route 91 music festival mass shooting next to the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada, U.S. October 4, 2017. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
Braden Matejka, 30, (L) and his girlfriend Amanda Homulos, 23, from British Columbia, Canada sit outside Sunrise Hospital & Medical Center after he was discharged after being shot at the Route 91 music festival mass shooting next to the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada, U.S. October 4, 2017. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
LAS VEGAS, NV - OCTOBER 4: Kassidy Owen, 22, left, and Taylor Schmidt, 21, both of Las Vegas, NV, are photographed on Wednesday, October 4, 2017, in Las Vegas, NV. Owen and Schmidt both survived the mass shooting on Sunday's evening. Sometimes I think it happened then the next second I say did that really happend,' Owen said. 'I keep hearing the shots in my head, people running and hear the ambulances,' she added. (Photo by Salwan Georges/The Washington Post via Getty Images)
LAS VEGAS, NV - OCTOBER 4: Veteran Steve Charshafian, 59, speaks about Sunday's night mass shooting and recalls helping wounded people on Wednesday, October 4, 2017, in Las Vegas, NV. Charshafian survived the Route 91 Harvest Country Music Festival shooting with his wife when they hid inside their car. (Photo by Salwan Georges/The Washington Post via Getty Images)
LAS VEGAS, NV - OCTOBER 04: Aaron Stalker is interviewed outside Dance Dynamics on Wednesday October 04, 2017 in Las Vegas, NV. Stalker helped to evacuate and care for victims during Sunday night's mass shooting at the Route 91 Harvest Festival. Aaron was attending a hockey game when his girlfriend, Stephanie Melanson called him from the concert. (Photo by Matt McClain/The Washington Post via Getty Images)
LAS VEGAS - OCTOBER 3: Jonathan Smith was shot at least twice while trying to run back and save others in the crowd at the Route 91 Harvest festival in Las Vegas. (Photo by Heather Long/The Washington Post via Getty Images)
LAS VEGAS, NV - OCTOBER 03: Brian Hopkins, the lead singer of the band Elvis Monroe, is interviewed by a tv reported on the south end of the Las Vegas Strip on the on October 3, 2017, after the mass shooting that killed 59 people and inured more than 500 people at the Route 91 Harvest Festival near Mandalay Bay on October 1, 2017, in Las Vegas, NV. Hopkins took over 20 people into a freezer near the venue. Hopkins filmed himself during the shooting, still unsure of what the chaos was going on outside in the venue. (Photo by Doug Kranz/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - OCTOBER 2: With the presence of her family, Danny Alegria, from left, Evan Algeria and Lucy Alegria - Carmen Alegria recounts her harrowing experience surviving and escaping the mass shooting that killed 59 and injured more than 525 at the Route 91 Harvest Festival, in Las Vegas, Nevada, on Oct. 2, 2017. (Marcus Yam / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)
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Paddock killed 58 people and injured hundreds more on Oct. 1 when he fired into the crowd gathered for a country music festival from his 32nd-floor suite at the Las Vegas Mandalay Bay hotel. The gunman killed himself before he could be apprehended.

His estate was named as a defendant in a complaint filed last week in Nevada state court. Attorneys who brought that action said they are planning to file more lawsuits.

SEE MORE: The unarmed security guard hailed as a hero after the Las Vegas shooting has mysteriously vanished

Plaintiff Paige Gasper, who was wounded in the shooting, accused Paddock of battery and the intentional infliction of emotional distress. She also sued MGM Resorts International , the owner of the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino; event organizer Live Nation Entertainment and the maker of a gun accessory Paddock used, Slide Fire Solution.

Another lawsuit on behalf of a California woman, Andrea Castilla, killed in the shooting was filed on Tuesday against the same defendants.

Eric Paddock, the shooter's brother, did not respond to a request for comment, but he previously told the Las Vegas Review-Journal that he was administering his brother's estate for the benefit of his victims.

MGM and Live Nation declined to comment on pending litigation. Slide Fire never responded to a request for comment.

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Man arrives in Las Vegas delivers hand-made crosses to honor mass shooting victims
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Man arrives in Las Vegas delivers hand-made crosses to honor mass shooting victims
LAS VEGAS, NV - OCTOBER 06: Mourners gather at the 'Welcome to Las Vegas' sign where Greg Zanis, a retired carpenter from Chicago, Illinois, placed 58 crosses to honor those who were killed during the Route 91 Harvest country music festival shootings October 6, 2017 in Las Vegas, Nevada. On October 1, Stephen Paddock opened fire on the crowd killing at least 58 people and injuring more than 450. The massacre is one of the deadliest mass shooting events in U.S. history. (Photo by Denise Truscello/Getty Images)
LAS VEGAS, NV - OCTOBER 06: Mourners gather at the 'Welcome to Las Vegas' sign where Greg Zanis, a retired carpenter from Chicago, Illinois, placed 58 crosses to honor those who were killed during the Route 91 Harvest country music festival shootings, October 6, 2017 in Las Vegas, Nevada. On October 1, Stephen Paddock opened fire on the crowd killing at least 58 people and injuring more than 450. The massacre is one of the deadliest mass shooting events in U.S. history. (Photo by Denise Truscello/Getty Images)
LAS VEGAS, NV - OCTOBER 06: Mourners gather at the 'Welcome to Las Vegas' sign where Greg Zanis, a retired carpenter from Chicago, Illinois, placed 58 crosses to honor those who were killed during the Route 91 Harvest country music festival shootings, October 6, 2017 in Las Vegas, Nevada. On October 1, Stephen Paddock opened fire on the crowd killing at least 58 people and injuring more than 450. The massacre is one of the deadliest mass shooting events in U.S. history. (Photo by Denise Truscello/Getty Images)
LAS VEGAS, NV - OCTOBER 06: U.S. Army veteran Adam Arizaga of Las Vegas, Nevada, places flowers on a cross at the 'Welcome to Las Vegas' sign on October 6, 2017 in Las Vegas, Nevada. 58 crosses made by Greg Zanis, a retired carpenter from Chicago, Illinois, are at the location to honor those who were killed during the Route 91 Harvest country music festival shootings. On October 1, Stephen Paddock opened fire on the crowd killing at least 58 people and injuring more than 450. The massacre is one of the deadliest mass shooting events in U.S. history. (Photo by Denise Truscello/Getty Images)
LAS VEGAS, NV - OCTOBER 06: U.S. Army veteran Adam Arizaga of Las Vegas, Nevada, places flowers on a cross at the 'Welcome to Las Vegas' sign. 58 crosses made by Greg Zanis, a retired carpenter from Chicago, Illinois, are at the location to honor those who were killed during the Route 91 Harvest country music festival shootings. October 6, 2017 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Denise Truscello/Getty Images)
LAS VEGAS, NV - OCTOBER 06: Mourners gather at the 'Welcome to Las Vegas' sign where Greg Zanis, a retired carpenter from Chicago, Illinois, placed 58 crosses to honor those who were killed during the Route 91 Harvest country music festival shootings October 6, 2017 in Las Vegas, Nevada. On October 1, Stephen Paddock opened fire on the crowd killing at least 58 people and injuring more than 450. The massacre is one of the deadliest mass shooting events in U.S. history. (Photo by Denise Truscello/Getty Images)
LAS VEGAS, NV - OCTOBER 06: Mourners gather at the 'Welcome to Las Vegas' sign where Greg Zanis, a retired carpenter from Chicago, Illinois, placed 58 crosses to honor those who were killed during the Route 91 Harvest country music festival shootings, October 6, 2017 in Las Vegas, Nevada. On October 1, Stephen Paddock opened fire on the crowd killing at least 58 people and injuring more than 450. The massacre is one of the deadliest mass shooting events in U.S. history. (Photo by Denise Truscello/Getty Images)
LAS VEGAS, NV - OCTOBER 06: Mourners gather at the 'Welcome to Las Vegas' sign where Greg Zanis, a retired carpenter from Chicago, Illinois, placed 58 crosses to honor those who were killed during the Route 91 Harvest country music festival shootings, October 6, 2017 in Las Vegas, Nevada. On October 1, Stephen Paddock opened fire on the crowd killing at least 58 people and injuring more than 450. The massacre is one of the deadliest mass shooting events in U.S. history. (Photo by Denise Truscello/Getty Images)
Greg Zanis of Chicago, Illinois works on one of the 58 white crosses he set up for the victims of the Route 91 music festival mass shooting in Las Vegas, Nevada, U.S., October 5, 2017. REUTERS/Chris Wattie
LAS VEGAS, NV - OCTOBER 06: Mourners gather at the 'Welcome to Las Vegas' sign where Greg Zanis, a retired carpenter from Chicago, Illinois, placed 58 crosses to honor those who were killed during the Route 91 Harvest country music festival shootings, October 6, 2017 in Las Vegas, Nevada. On October 1, Stephen Paddock opened fire on the crowd killing at least 58 people and injuring more than 450. The massacre is one of the deadliest mass shooting events in U.S. history. (Photo by Denise Truscello/Getty Images)
LAS VEGAS, NV - OCTOBER 06: Mourners gather at the 'Welcome to Las Vegas' sign where Greg Zanis, a retired carpenter from Chicago, Illinois, placed 58 crosses to honor those who were killed during the Route 91 Harvest country music festival shootings, October 6, 2017 in Las Vegas, Nevada. On October 1, Stephen Paddock opened fire on the crowd killing at least 58 people and injuring more than 450. The massacre is one of the deadliest mass shooting events in U.S. history. (Photo by Denise Truscello/Getty Images)
LAS VEGAS, NV - OCTOBER 06: Mourners gather at the 'Welcome to Las Vegas' sign where Greg Zanis, a retired carpenter from Chicago, Illinois, placed 58 crosses to honor those who were killed during the Route 91 Harvest country music festival shootings, October 6, 2017 in Las Vegas, Nevada. On October 1, Stephen Paddock opened fire on the crowd killing at least 58 people and injuring more than 450. The massacre is one of the deadliest mass shooting events in U.S. history. (Photo by Denise Truscello/Getty Images)
Greg Zanis of Chicago, Illinois works on one of the 58 white crosses he set up for the victims of the Route 91 music festival mass shooting in Las Vegas, Nevada, U.S., October 5, 2017. REUTERS/Chris Wattie
LAS VEGAS, NV - OCTOBER 06: Mourners gather at the 'Welcome to Las Vegas' sign where Greg Zanis, a retired carpenter from Chicago, Illinois, placed 58 crosses to honor those who were killed during the Route 91 Harvest country music festival shootings, October 6, 2017 in Las Vegas, Nevada. On October 1, Stephen Paddock opened fire on the crowd killing at least 58 people and injuring more than 450. The massacre is one of the deadliest mass shooting events in U.S. history. (Photo by Denise Truscello/Getty Images)
Greg Zanis of Chicago, Illinois works on one of the 58 white crosses he set up for the victims of the Route 91 music festival mass shooting in Las Vegas, Nevada, U.S., October 5, 2017. REUTERS/Chris Wattie TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
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LIABILITY BEYOND QUESTION

Legal experts said it was hard to hold premises and firearms manufacturers responsible for mass shootings.

Victor Schwartz, an attorney specializing in injury cases, said victims suing the Las Vegas hotel and event organizer would have to show the latter could have foreseen and taken steps to prevent the shooting. That would be difficult for such an extreme event, he said.

At the same time, Federal law specifically protects the makers of guns and ammunition from liability for the criminal use of their products.

SEE MORE: Victim of Las Vegas shooting wakes up from coma after bullet struck her forehead

Though Paddock's estate will likely not be able to pay nearly as much as a large corporate defendant could, and individual payouts could be small given the number of victims, his liability for the shooting is beyond question.

Shooting victims would have the same claim on Paddock's estate as those trying to collect unpaid bills, said Mark Solomon, a Las Vegas estate lawyer. Certain claims, such as unpaid taxes or an outstanding mortgage, would have higher priority.

However, among victims, the families of those killed would receive the highest amounts and those who suffered emotional distress and no physical harm would get the least, Solomon said.

Paddock's heirs would not receive anything unless all creditors had been paid. Given the number of victims, there is unlikely to be anything left, legal experts said.

SEE MORE: Las Vegas sheriff, in emotional press conference, admits he's still searching for answers

Any money Paddock gave away just before the shooting, like the $100,000 he is believed to have sent to his girlfriend Marilou Danley in the Philippines, might also be clawed back as a "fraudulent conveyance," said Elizabeth Carter, an estate law professor at Louisiana State University.

Though recovery from shooters has been rare, victims have received substantial payments from younger shooters' parents, who have been accused of insufficiently monitoring their children or failing to prevent them from accessing firearms.

The parents of the two teenagers who committed the 1999 Columbine high school shooting settled with most of the victims' families for $1.6 million in 2001. (Reporting by Tina Bellon; Editing by Anthony Lin and Andrew Hay)

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