MGM offers deal to shooting victims it's suing

LAS VEGAS (AP) — MGM Resorts International drew criticism Tuesday for saying hundreds of survivors of the Las Vegas mass shooting, who are being sued by the casino operator, could opt to have the money that will be used to serve them a lawsuit instead donated to a charity.

The company in July sued more than 1,900 victims of the Oct. 1 mass shooting at one of its properties and has been working to notify them as it faces a standard 90-day deadline.

MGM told the victims' attorneys it would rather make the donations to charities than spend the money to pay people to serve the legal notices.

"The money spent on personal service of process — up to $250 per person — could be better directed to do some affirmative good," MGM's attorneys wrote in the letter shared with The Associated Press.

MGM offered to make a $500 charitable donation for each person who waives being served or authorizes an attorney to accept service on their behalf, but a victims' lawyer quickly called it all "nonsense."

Attorney Robert Eglet, part of a group representing most of the victims, said the company is just trying to "spin" its attempt to save money on serving legal notices.

13 PHOTOS
Around Las Vegas after the shooting
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Around Las Vegas after the shooting
Las Vegas Boulevard remains closed near the mass shooing site at the Route 91 Harvest Country Music Festival in Las Vegas, Nevada, U.S., October 2, 2017. REUTERS/Mike Blake
A man stands next to a bouquet of flowers along a pedestrian walkway looking towards where a mass shooing at the Route 91 Harvest Country Music Festival took place Monday night on the Las Vegas Strip in Las Vegas, Nevada, U.S., October 2, 2017. REUTERS/Mike Blake
LAS VEGAS, NV - OCTOBER 3: Law enforcement vehicles gather near one of the entrance points to the concert venue where Sunday night's mass shooting, October 3, 2017 in Las Vegas, Nevada. The gunman, identified as Stephen Paddock, 64, of Mesquite, Nevada, allegedly opened fire from a room on the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino on the music festival, leaving at least 58 people dead and over 500 injured. According to reports, Paddock killed himself at the scene. The massacre is one of the deadliest mass shooting events in U.S. history. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
LAS VEGAS, NV - OCTOBER 3: Las Vegas Blvd. remained closed to vehicular traffic near the scene of Sunday night's mass shooting, October 3, 2017 in Las Vegas, Nevada. The gunman, identified as Stephen Paddock, 64, of Mesquite, Nevada, allegedly opened fire from a room on the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino on the music festival, leaving at least 58 people dead and over 500 injured. According to reports, Paddock killed himself at the scene. The massacre is one of the deadliest mass shooting events in U.S. history. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
Las Vegas Boulevard lights-up with with signs for the victims and first responders after a mass shooing at the Route 91 Harvest Country Music Festival in Las Vegas, Nevada, U.S., October 2, 2017. REUTERS/Mike Blake
Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman hosts a prayer vigil, in honor of those affected by the shooting on the Las Vegas Strip, in front of Las Vegas City Hall in Las Vegas, Nevada, U.S. October 2, 2017. REUTERS/Las Vegas Sun/Steve Marcus
A churches cross is lit by fading daylight as it towers over the scene in front of the stage following a mass shooing at the Route 91 Harvest Country Music Festival on the Las Vegas Strip in Las Vegas, Nevada, U.S., October 2, 2017. REUTERS/Mike Blake
People stand along a pedestrian walkway looking towards where a mass shooing at the Route 91 Harvest Country Music Festival took place last night on the Las Vegas Strip in Las Vegas, Nevada, U.S., October 2, 2017. REUTERS/Mike Blake
Women walk down the Las Vegas strip after roads were closed near the site of the Route 91 music festival mass shooting outside the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada, U.S. October 2, 2017. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
Las Vegas Boulevard lights-up with with signs for the victims and first responders after a mass shooing at the Route 91 Harvest Country Music Festival in Las Vegas, Nevada, U.S., October 2, 2017. REUTERS/Mike Blake
Las Vegas residents Karen Stevens (L) and husband Mark Stevens attend a candlelight vigil at Las Vegas City Hall October 2, 2017, after a gunman killed at least 58 people and wounded more than 500 others when he opened fire on a country music concert in Las Vegas, Nevada late October 1, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / Robyn Beck (Photo credit should read ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images)
LAS VEGAS, USA - OCTOBER 02 : Mandalay Hotel is seen after a gunman attack in Las Vegas, NV, United States on October 02, 2017. At least 59 people were killed and more than 527 others wounded at a country music concert in the city of Las Vegas late Sunday night in the mass shooting. A gunman -- identified as Stephen Paddock -- opened fire on more than 10,000 concert-goers at an outdoor venue from across the Mandalay Bay Hotel at around 10.08 p.m. local time (0508GMT Monday), Clark County Sheriff Joseph Lambardo from the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department (LVMPD) told reporters. (Photo by Bilgin S. Sasmaz/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
LAS VEGAS, USA - OCTOBER 02: Police block the roads leading to the Mandalay Hotel (background) and inspect the site after a gunman attack in Las Vegas, NV, United States on October 02, 2017. At least 59 people were killed and more than 527 others wounded at a country music concert in the city of Las Vegas late Sunday night in the mass shooting. A gunman -- identified as Stephen Paddock -- opened fire on more than 10,000 concert-goers at an outdoor venue from across the Mandalay Bay Hotel at around 10.08 p.m. local time (0508GMT Monday), Clark County Sheriff Joseph Lambardo from the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department (LVMPD) told reporters. (Photo by Bilgin S. Sasmaz/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
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"It will cost the MGM significantly more than $250 to serve them," Eglet said. "This is just more outrageous conduct by them."

Serving defendants is a crucial step in a civil lawsuit. It informs a defendant that a lawsuit has been filed against him or her, provides the individual a copy of the complaint and starts running a 21-day deadline for the person to respond to the lawsuit.

Eglet said the firms representing most of the victims have not been authorized to accept the legal notices. That would force MGM to find and serve each of the 1,977 people it sued.

Letters explaining the offer of charitable donations were sent Tuesday to 37 attorneys representing victims.

As part of MGM's offer, each defendant would choose a charity that supports survivors or families of slain victims, and the donation would be made in his or her name.

If the offers are not accepted, "we will personally serve the complaints courteously and respectfully," MGM spokeswoman Debra DeShong said.

The casino operator filed the lawsuits in an attempt to have a federal judge declare that it has no liability to survivors or families of slain victims under a federal law enacted after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. The law limits liability when a company or group uses services approved by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. MGM argues it is free of liability because the security vendor for the outdoor venue was federally certified at the time of the attack.

Twenty-two thousand people were at an MGM-owned outdoor venue for a country music festival, when a high-stakes gambler broke the windows of his 32nd-floor casino-resort suite and began shooting. The gunman killed 58 people and injured more than 800 before taking his own life.

MGM has insisted its lawsuits, which don't demand money, are meant to avoid years of costly litigation.

29 PHOTOS
Las Vegas police release new photos of Stephen Paddock's room
See Gallery
Las Vegas police release new photos of Stephen Paddock's room
Photo: Las Vegas Police Department

Stephen Paddock's body (center right) and view from sitting area towards the bar/kitchenette.

Photo: Las Vegas Police Department

Stephen Paddock's body (top left) and view from sitting area towards the bar/kitchenette.

Photo: Las Vegas Police Department

View from entry of 32-135 towards the sitting area.

Photo: Las Vegas Police Department

View from sitting area towards the bar / kitchenette.

Photo: Las Vegas Police Department

View from foyer of room 32-135 towards the sitting area.

Photo: Las Vegas Police Department

View from sitting area towards master bedroom.

Photo: Las Vegas Police Department

Interior of room 32-134 from connecting doors.

Photo: Las Vegas Police Department

Interior of room 32-134 from connecting doors.

Photo: Las Vegas Police Department

View of the Las Vegas Village from room 32-135.

Photo: Las Vegas Police Department

Door leading to the stairwell secured by "L" bracket.

Photo: Las Vegas Police Department

View from 100 hallway towards room 32-135.

Photo: Las Vegas Police Department

Food Service Cart in hallway with camera.

Photo: Las Vegas Police Department

Food Service Cart in hallway with camera.

Photo: Las Vegas Police Department

View of connecting doors between room 32-135 and 32-134.

Photo: Las Vegas Police Department

Blue plastic hose with snorkel mouthpiece attached.

Photo: Las Vegas Police Department

Surveillance camera mounted to room door peephole.

Photo: Las Vegas Police Department

Small sledge hammer.

Photo: Las Vegas Police Department

Handwritten note with distance/bullet drop calculations.

Photo: Las Vegas Police Department

Damage to entry door of room 32-135.

Photo: Las Vegas Police Department

Damage to entry door of room 32-135.

Photo: Las Vegas Police Department

Desk in master bedroom of 32-135 with SCUBA mask and power hand drill.

Photo: Las Vegas Police Department

Hallway of room 32-134 with food service cart and laptop connected to cameras.

Photo: Las Vegas Police Department

Paddock's vehicle.

Photo: Las Vegas Police Department

Explosive precursors found in Paddock's vehicle.

Photo: Las Vegas Police Department

Exploding targets found in Paddock's vehicle.

Photo: Las Vegas Police Department

McCarran International Airport fuel tank with bullet strikes.

Photo: Las Vegas Police Department

Upper bullet strike.

Photo: Las Vegas Police Department

Lower bullet strike.

Photo: Las Vegas Police Department

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Follow Regina Garcia Cano on Twitter at https://twitter.com/reginagarciakNO

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