The now-defunct manufacturer of bump stocks, the weapon attachment that helped turn a 2017 Las Vegas mass shooting into the deadliest rampage in modern American history, is demanding money from the shooter’s estate in a court action that threatens to wipe out compensation for the victims.
Bump stocks effectively transformed semiautomatic weapons into automatic rifles that spit out a string of rapid-fire shots with a single trigger squeeze. Stephen Paddock used one or more bump stocks made by Texas-based Slide Fire Solutions to kill 58 people in 11 minutes at a music festival from his hotel room window on Oct. 1, 2017.
Paddock also killed himself inside the hotel. No clear motive was ever determined.
Slide Fire last month filed a creditors claim in a Nevada court against Paddock’s estate, demanding that it cover damages resulting from a class-action suit against the company. The class-action suit argues that Slide Fire’s product was partly responsible for the deaths.
“This horrific assault did not occur, could not occur, and would not have occurred with a conventional handgun, rifle, or shotgun, of the sort used by law-abiding responsible gun owners for hunting or self-defense,” said the suit, which seeks an unspecified amount in damages from Slide First in product liability, negligence and infliction of emotional distress.
The killings “resulted from the military-style arsenal that Defendants manufactured, marketed, and sold to the general public, without any reasonable measures or safeguards, and which the killer foreseeably used to such horrific results,” the suit added.
Bump stocks were banned by federal law in March 2019.
Now Slide Fire wants to snatch Paddock’s estate to pay off any damages eventually won by the suit. But Paddock’s entire $1.1 million estate has already been set aside for the beneficiaries of those killed in the shooting.
“It’s disheartening,” Paddock’s estate attorney Alice Denton told HuffPost on Monday. “Our whole effort has been to get this money to the victims.” She had hoped to finally settle the estate and designate victim payments by October.
A fight to protect the funds from Slide Fire could take 10 years, the Las Vegas lawyer warned, and the money would end up just paying attorney fees.
“Hopefully,” Slide Fire will “see it as the right thing to do” to give up its claim to allow the money to go directly to the victims, said Denton, who suspects damages against Slide Fire will be far larger in any case.
Slide Fire could not be reached for comment.
Paddock died without a will. His estate went to his mother, who agreed to sign over all assets to Paddock’s victims.