You may have heard that victims and families of victims of the Aurora movie theater shooting filed a lawsuit against Cinemark for the 2012 shooting. In May of 2016 the case went to trial and the six person jury came back with a decision—the theater was not liable. You may be asking questions like “How could the theater be responsible in the first place? They didn’t pull the trigger.” Or maybe you’re asking yourself “Why wouldn’t they be liable? Couldn’t they have done more to prevent such a tragic incident from happening?”
In this matter the jury was asked to assess whether Cinemark should have known about the risk of a mass shooting and whether the theater failed to protect its patrons. This jury felt that, based on the evidence presented to them, the theater was not liable.
In an article from the Denver Post, it notes that the Plaintiffs were unable to present a memo from the Department of Homeland Security that was released two months before the shooting. The memo warned movie theaters that they could be targets for terrorist attacks. The argument by victims and family members of victims is that the theater should have been put on notice of potential attacks, and thus should have improved its security.
In this case, it is not about whether the defendant took a deliberate action, like with a murder trial. This case is looking at whether Cinemark was negligent in not providing the proper security for a midnight showing of a new movie. Arguably, there were some safety concerns considering the number of people, and the Department of Homeland Security memo certainly makes this case an interesting one, and possibly a turning point in the case if it had been admitted into evidence. This trial focused on whether the theater lacked proper action, and the jury decided it was not negligent in how it handled security that night.
What has happened to these victim’s families and victims is tragic, and an event like the midnight showing of a popular Batman movie certainly could have been seen as making the location a target. It makes sense to argue that Cinemark should have been liable for not having better security that night. However, the jury had to make their decision based on the evidence presented.
Since the jury’s decision has been made, there will now be an appeals process for this case, especially involving the exclusion of the memo. It will be interesting to see what happens next, and we hope the families of victims and victims of this horrific event find the peace they deserve in this matter.