Judge allows Aurora theater suit to continue

DENVER - A federal court judge will permit a series of lawsuits to continue against the owner of the Century 16 movie complex in Aurora. Various plaintiffs have alleged Cinemark should be held partially responsible for the shootings in July 2012 that left 12 dead and 70 injured.

Friday, US District Court Judge R. Brooke Jackson denied Cinemark's request for a summary judgement, a critical step for plaintiffs who would like to see the case head to trial.

The plaintiffs represent families of some of the fatalities as well as some of those injured in the attack.

Cinemark had sought to dismiss the case early in part because it had no way of knowing that a gunman might enter the theater that night.

In seeking summary judgement, Cinemark argued it "neither knew it should have known of this danger because the danger was unforeseeable as a matter of law."

In his ruling, Judge Jackson said plaintiffs have "come forward with some evidence suggesting the risk of an 'active shooter' was not unknown to Cinemark" due, in part, to active shooter procedures recommended to Cinemark as early as 2009.

Plaintiffs have also introduced a 2012 Homeland Security report that suggested terrorists might try to attack theaters and similar mass gatherings.

The ruling, as evidenced by Judge Jackson's ruling does not ensure success on the effort to sue Cinemark. Near the end of the ruling, Judge Jackson asked, what a reasonable theater might have done before July, 20, 2012, even if it recognized "it might happen to us."

"Holmes' assault was hardly a random event," said Judge Jackson.

James Holmes is set to go to trial in the criminal case in December. The trial, should it get underway, will last months. Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty. Holmes' public defenders have argued he was legally insane at the time of the crime.

(KUSA-TV © 2014 Multimedia Holdings Corporation)


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