Casino may win in federal court but this is a state issue

The mass-murder at the MGM Grand Casino prompted the casino to sue the survivors to prevent them from suing the casino. The casino claims that a federal law related to terrorist attacks makes the casino immune from lawsuits. Even if the casino can stop federal lawsuits, this would not stop state lawsuits. However, I don’t expect many survivors of the attack realize that federal jurisdiction is not even relevant since the casino sits on state land. People mistakenly think that federal jurisdiction supersedes state jurisdiction when in fact federal jurisdiction only relates to federal land and issues enumerated in the Constitution.

One of the articles on this topic states, “the law requires that liability claims be handled in federal court.” The casino may have to file its lawsuit in federal court to leverage the federal statute, but that does not mean the survivors need to file their claims in federal courts. They would be wise to file in state courts and to emphasize that the federal case is irrelevant.

One problem is that what we think are state courts are federal courts locally overseeing the federal land within the state. The courts are for the ‘State of Nevada’ not Nevada (the state). In a court of the State of Nevada, the federal statute would likely hold sway. However, in a Nevada court this would not be the case. The survivors likely need to ensure that any court proceeding relates to Nevada, not ‘State of Nevada’. This would likely need to be asserted before trial or by making a special appearance.

For any company to take advantage of the federal statute, the company must ‘submit’ to federal jurisdiction. This may help with one area but may allow the federal government jurisdiction over other aspects of a business that were previously only related to state jurisdiction or not related to state or federal governments, since we have the inalienable right to pursue happiness.

Note, I am not giving legal advice. I am discussing the legal and lawful aspects of a case as would any student or journalist.

Read more on MSNBC and LATimes.

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