The victims of the Aurora theater shooting have been given an ultimatum: They will not have to pay the nearly $700,000 in court costs they owe the nation’s third largest theater chain if they drop their appeals in a civil case.
This comes after a number of survivors and victims’ families took Cinemark to court, alleging the company could have done more to prevent the July 20, 2012 shooting that claimed the lives of 12 people and wounded 70 more.
Earlier this year, a jury ruled in Cinemark’s favor. In a filing in Arapahoe County District Court, Cinemark’s attorneys asked the victims to pay $699,187.13 for trial costs.
A judge issued an order Wednesday saying the parties must come to an agreement within the next 14 days.
Marcus Weaver was in the theater the night of the shooting. His friend Rebecca Wingo was killed. He was originally part of the civil case, but is not one of the victims who is liable for court costs.
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“It’s really about safety,” he said. “When you go to a movie theater now with my one-year-old Maggie, I want to make sure I don’t have to wear a bulletproof vest if something does happen. There’s a mechanism to thwart that from happening.”
He said Cinemark was initially going to waive the court fees if the 41 original victims in the case agreed to a settlement and a non-disclosure.
“But that never happened because all 41 of us didn’t agree,” he said. “We were all in different places.”
Among the people who sued Cinemark and now may have to pay thousands of dollars are the families of Alex Teves and Jessica Ghawi, who died in the movie theater. Yousef Gharbi, who survived a bullet wound to the head and Farrah Soudani, whose friends had to hold her insides in after she was shot, also owe the theater money.
“Of course it’s a publicity storm,” Weaver said, “but if they really are trying to save face, they would have given us a settlement offer or a fund set up for the people set up with serious injuries. That would have help out a lot.”
9NEWS Legal Expert Scott Robinson told 9NEWS back in June that he believes Cinemark asked the victims to repay court costs “to discourage future lawsuits against their chain for personal injuries.”
“The question is, how big is going to be the backlash that the public chooses to impose on what appears to be a corporate bully?” Robinson said.