An Aurora, CO Cinemark movie theater was the setting in 2012 where a gunman, James Holmes, went on a shooting rampage that led to (12) fatalities and (70) injuries during a screening of The Dark Knight Rises. The Denver Post reports that a large group of survivors initiated a suit in state court shortly thereafter. The plaintiff alleged that poor security, such as having no armed guards on duty and insufficient security surveillance equipment, enabled the gunman to execute the sudden attack.
The judge presiding in the case encouraged the plaintiffs to accept a settlement offer from Cinemark. The terms were based on $150,000 to be divided among (41) plaintiffs, which many deemed insufficient. Four of the plaintiffs remained at the conclusion of the suit, one of which had lost a child in the attack. The Arapahoe County District Court, which was the venue for the case, allows for those who are victorious in such civil matters to recover many of the legal costs associated with the suit. Cinemark’s attorneys compiled an itemized bill of their costs totaling nearly $700,000, which the four unsuccessful plaintiffs could be liable for as we await the announcement of a potential appeal which is apparently being discussed. In cases similar to this, it is common that the costs can be forgiven in exchange for an agreement that no further appeals are filed.
Premises Liability in the Case
The claim brought, in this case, is governed by the Colorado Premises Liability Act which holds a landowner potentially liable in instances where someone is injured on their property. The court must conclude that the landowner failed to provide reasonable care to prevent dangerous incidents which the landowner was either aware of, or should have been aware of, from occurring.
District Court Findings
- The court noted, “in no way that Cinemark should have known the danger of someone entering its theater through a back door and randomly shooting innocent patrons.”
- In Colorado, negligence must be proven by the Plaintiff indicating the defendant gave a proximate cause contributing to the injury.
- Proximate cause is ordinarily determined by a jury; however, the court felt that there was no question that the actions of Mr. Holmes were deliberate and premeditated criminal acts that caused the injuries/deaths.
- In relation to the Plaintiff’s claims that Cinemark failed to provide adequate security, the court concluded that no reasonable jury could conceivably find that Cinemark’s actions or inactions were a factor in the tragedy.
Did you or a loved one incur injuries due to possible negligence of another person or entity? Making a determination of whether you may be awarded compensation can often be complex; therefore, make the call to the personal injury lawyers at the Law Firm of Jeremy Rosenthal today for a consultation.