In Colorado, Federal Judge Allows Aurora Shooting Suits to Proceed

Our Colorado Law Shield members should closely follow federal lawsuits seeking to hold Cinemark USA— owner of the Century Aurora 16 theater — liable for damages at the site of a deadly 2012 attack.

At the theater, James Holmes is accused of fatally shooting 12 people and wounding 58 more during a midnight showing of “The Dark Knight Rises” Batman movie on July 20, 2012.

U.S. District Court Judge R. Brooke Jackson ruled against a motion for summary judgment by Cinemark and held that a jury might think the owner of the Aurora movie theater could have reasonably enough foreseen the danger of such an attack to be held liable for it.

In the decision, Jackson wrote, “I hold only that a court cannot grant summary judgment on what is normally a question of fact under Colorado law unless the facts so overwhelmingly and inarguably point in Cinemark’s favor that it cannot be said that a reasonable jury could possibly side with the plaintiffs on that question. I am not convinced. Plaintiffs have come forward with enough — and it does not have to be more than just enough — to show that there is a genuine dispute of material fact. A genuine fact dispute must be resolved by the trier of fact, not by a court’s granting summary judgment. Whether the jury will resolve this issue in the plaintiffs’ favor is a different matter entirely.”

So, the ruling allows 20 lawsuits filed by survivors of the attack or relatives of those killed to proceed toward trial, the Denver Post reported.

According to some of the complaints, the theater had no security guards on duty for the midnight showing on July 20, 2012, though guards had been at the theater on July 19, a Thursday.

This is important to Law Shield members because the theater did not allow firearms.

“Although theaters had theretofore been spared a mass shooting incident, the patrons of a movie theater are, perhaps even more than students in a school or shoppers in a mall, ‘sitting ducks,'” Jackson wrote.

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