Father of Huntington Beach woman killed in Las Vegas shooting files wrongful death suit

Andrea Castilla of Huntington Beach was one of 58 people killed when Stephen Paddock opened fire on an outdoor concert crowd from his 32nd-floor hotel room. (Oct. 19, 2017)

The father of a Huntington Beach woman who was fatally wounded during a mass shooting at a country music festival in Las Vegas this month filed a lawsuit Tuesday against the operator of the Mandalay Bay resort and others, alleging wrongful death and negligence.

Andrea Castilla, an Estancia High School graduate, was celebrating her 28th birthday at the three-day Route 91 Harvest festival with her boyfriend, Derek Miller, her sister Athena and Athena’s fiance, Shane Armstrong. Castilla was one of 58 people killed by Stephen Paddock, who aimed a barrage of gunfire on the outdoor concert crowd the night of Oct. 1 from his suite on the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino. The shooting left more than 500 people wounded.

The lawsuit filed by Castilla’s father, Gus, in Los Angeles County Superior Court names MGM Resorts International, which operates Mandalay Bay, concert promoter Live Nation and Slide Fire Solutions, a manufacturer of a gun accessory called a “bump stock” that allows semiautomatic weapons to mimic the fire of a machine gun.

The estate of Paddock, 64, who killed himself after the shooting, also is named in the filing.

The suit seeks more than $50,000 in general damages and more than $50,000 in economic damages as well as an unspecified amount for medical and funeral expenses, emotional distress and other damages.

The lawsuit alleges that Mandalay Bay employees were negligent in not noticing that Paddock had taken 17 guns and ammunition into his hotel room and set up security cameras to monitor the hallway outside his room.

“It’s inconceivable to us than once within the hotel that the perpetrator could remain undetected with that cache of weapons for three to five days, mount surveillance cameras and hide behind do-not-disturb signs without detection if the hotel engaged in properly conducted security checks,” Gus Castilla’s Newport Beach-based attorney, Richard Bridgford, said Wednesday.

MGM Resorts did not respond to an email seeking comment.

The suit also alleges that Live Nation, the promoter of the festival, failed to provide adequate exits and to train employees in case of an emergency.

A representative of Live Nation declined to comment Wednesday on the specifics of the lawsuit but issued the following statement:

“We continue to be devastated by the tragedy at the Route 91 festival, heartbroken for the victims, their families and the countless people forever impacted by this senseless act of violence and are cooperating fully with the active FBI investigation.”

The filing accuses Slide Fire Solutions of negligently advertising bump stocks as “an inexpensive device used to circumvent federal laws prohibiting fully automatic weapons.”

Police said a dozen of the semiautomatic rifles Paddock had in his hotel room were outfitted with bump stocks that increased their rate of fire.

Slide Fire Solutions, based in Moran, Texas, could not be reached for comment.

“What’s truly regrettable, especially in these times of known heightened risk, is that this tragedy was completely foreseeable and thus avoidable,” Bridgford said. “That such things will occur is a virtual certainty these days.

“As such, those who profit from attracting the public into their business venues must do a far better job of safeguarding them. As a result of their failure to do so, my client has forever lost his beautiful and intelligent daughter of only 28 years.”

The lawsuit describes Paddock’s “reign of terror” on the crowd, which included roughly 10 minutes of “indiscriminate, rapid-fire shooting into the packed and enclosed outdoor venue.”

When the venue’s lights went on, the lawsuit alleges, it gave Paddock, who had a “bird’s-eye view” of the site, more visibility.

Andrea Castilla was among the crowd of roughly 22,000 concertgoers, holding hands with her sister and listening to singer Jason Aldean when the gunfire erupted. Castilla was struck in the head.

Miller, Athena Castilla and Armstrong picked her up and, unable to find an exit to walk through, pulled her over a nearby fence, according to the lawsuit. They flagged down a passing motorist, who took them to Sunrise Hospital in the bed of his truck.

At the hospital, Andrea Castilla was separated from her friends and family. They learned the following day that she had died almost immediately after reaching the hospital.

In an interview with the Los Angeles Times, Miller said he had taken a custom-made moonstone engagement ring with him to Las Vegas, where he planned to propose to Castilla.

Miller and Castilla, who had been dating for seven months, lived together in Huntington Beach and often spoke about marriage, he said.

“We wanted every single second together. We did more in seven months than most couples get to do in a lifetime,” Miller said.

Twitter: @HannahFryTCN