RE: July 28th 2018 article of “Immunity in case of attack: the 2002 SAFETY ACT would prevent legal claims from survivors by Matt Pearce of The Los Angeles Times
The cardinal purposes and functions of law in any civilized society per se are: (i) establishing standards; (ii) maintaining order; (iii) resolving disputes; and (iv) protecting liberties and rights of citizens, all of which transcend the subjectivity of time and culture in the universality of Reason as illustrated in the canons of the Decalogue, the Hammurabi Code, and the Napoleonic Codes. Since the law itself is immaterial – that is, devoid of feelings, emotions, and thoughts, its intrinsic nature is neutral. There is nothing either good or bad, but interpretation and applicability makes it so in the execution of justice.
That is exactly what MGM, the owner of Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas, is trying to do with the law called the 2002 SAFETY ACT (“The SAFETY ACT”), which the company wants to use as an indemnity against their liability from last year’s Las Vegas shooting survivors’ lawsuits. The SAFETY ACT is an acronym for “The Support Anti-Terrorism by Fostering Effective Technologies Act” passed after the Sept, 11, 2001, which allows companies to apply to the Department of Homeland Security to seek verification that their security products and services were beneficial. In exchange, Homeland Security would provide certification under the law, which is a portent immunity claim in federal court in case of a terrorist attack.
The SAFETY ACT defines the nature and kinds of terrorism in its own terms, discrete from the traditional counterparts based on an ideological agenda of law, thus leading to multitudinous interpretations of the law. To illustrate, the SAFETY ACT defines terrorism as acts “intended to cause mass destruction, injury or other loss to citizen or institutions of the United States.”
Could MGM, then, successfully escape from liability for the massacre of fifty eight people at a concert in Las Vegas last year on the ground of an act of terrorism under the protection of the SAFETY ACT with certification issued from Homeland Security? It all seems to me that human nature has not changed at all throughout the history of civilization. For example, indemnity from liability in the form of certification reminds me of the sale of Indulgence by the church in the medieval times, especially in Germany, which ultimately gave rise to Reformation led by Martin Luther. Or shall I compare it to a letter of Marquis from the Crown kept and carried about by English privateers (or more popularly known as “pirates”) because it protected them from being pursued by the Navy and gave free rein to pirating in open seas?
In my opinion, defendant MGM’s argument of the massacre as an act of terrorism does not hold water, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing because the company was responsible for duty of care owed to the concert attendees on the ground of a breach of duty by neglecting an assumption of unforeseeable and foreseeable risks. For if the case is rendered in favor of the company, it could be all systems go for all other negligent companies to misappropriate the otherwise sovereign protection from the SAFETY ACT over any incident that lacks such political motive, such as this Vegas case. The authority of law should lay bare the facts and the truth, and there should be no fettering of authority in deliverance of justice.
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