Bump stock maker seeks compensation from Las Vegas massacre victim fund

The maker of the now-banned gun accessory that worsened the Las Vegas massacre has filed a little-noticed court motion that threatens to wipe out a $1.1 million fund set aside for the victims’ families, The Post has learned.

Slide Fire Solutions — the defunct manufacturer of the controversial “bump stock” device that converted Stephen Paddock’s guns into automatic weapons, helping him kill 58 people in 11 minutes — has filed a creditor’s claim against the dead gunman’s estate, court records show.

According to the claim, filed June 15 in Nevada state court, Slide Fire wants Paddock’s estate to share the cost of any damages the company may be forced to pay from a class-action lawsuit brought against it in October 2017 that alleges its devices were partly responsible for the massacre.

The problem: Paddock’s surviving family members have allocated his $1.4 million estate to the families of his victims, with administrators hoping to distribute the money to them in October, around the third anniversary of the tragedy.

Paddock’s estate has not yet decided how to handle the claim, but the outlook isn’t good for the victims’ families, according to Alice Denton, a lawyer who is managing the unwinding of the estate.

Denying the claim could lead to an expensive legal battle with Slide Fire that would eat up the roughly $1.1 million the estate currently has on hand, Denton said. Accepting it would likely force the estate to fork over every penny if Slide Fire loses the lawsuit, she added.

“It defeats our entire purpose,” Denton told The Post. “Everything that we have done in the last few years has been to preserve and protect this money for them. Now with this creditor’s claim all our efforts are for naught.”

For his part, Eric Paddock, the gunman’s brother who has expressed sympathy for the plight of the victims’ families, said they “might get a pack of gum once this is done” thanks to Slide Fire’s legal ploy. But he said the matter is out of his hands.

“The Paddock family is done with this,” he told The Post. “We’ve done what we can do.”

Two survivors of the October 2017 mass murder, the largest in modern US history, brought a federal class-action suit against Slide Fire that accuses the company of negligence, saying the extent of the carnage would not have been possible without the bump stock.

In its court filing last month, however, Slide Fire countered that Paddock’s estate should also have to pay up because he was the one who pulled the trigger. “But for the acts of Stephen Paddock, the class-action plaintiffs could not have suffered the alleged damages for which they seek monetary compensation,” Slide Fire lawyer F. Thomas Edwards, wrote in the filing.

If Slide Fire loses the class-action suit, the company added, it wants a jury to “allocate the proportionate share of responsibility” between the company and Paddock’s estate.

A lawyer for the Vegas survivors called the move a page out of Slide Fire’s “disturbing” playbook to evade accountability for its role in the massacre.

“Slide Fire has not taken an ounce of responsibility for anything that it has ever done, nor has it made any gesture, however small, to try to do right by the victims of this shooting,” said Jonathan Lowy, chief counsel at the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence. “Instead, they have fought tooth and nail against the victims in court, and this filing appears to be the latest chapter in that strategy.”

Even waiting to see how the case plays out could indefinitely delay the estate’s plans to distribute the funds in October, according to Denton. She said she reached out to Slide Fire’s lawyers last month “almost begging” them to withdraw the claim.

“Then we could proceed to distribute this fall and close the estate, and end a very tragic segment in the history of Las Vegas,” she told The Post.

Edwards, the Slide Fire lawyer, did not return multiple calls from The Post.

Slide Fire founder Jeremiah Cottle invented the bump stock, which enables regular rifles to fire like fully automatic weapons. The company started selling the device in 2010, raking in more than $10 million in sales in its first year, according to court records.

But President Trump announced plans to ban bump stocks in February 2018 amid outrage over the massacre. By April, Slide Fire revealed it would shut down its Web site and stop taking orders the following month.

Paddock killed himself in the Mandalay Bay hotel suite from which he had rained bullets down on a crowd of country music fans. He didn’t have a will, so control of his estate went to his mother, who in March 2018 transferred the inheritance to the estates of the 58 dead.

Additional reporting by Michael Kaplan

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