Colorado Movie Theater Shooting Lawsuit

UPDATE: The Denver Post is reporting that Cinemark has agreed to drop the request for the victims of Aurora theater shooting to pay for their $700,000 legal fees. The theater chain’s lawyers have issued a statement saying that the company’s goal “has always been to resolve this matter fully and completely without an award of costs of any kind to any party.” Although the details have not been disclosed, it appears that Cinemark has waived their demand for payment in return for the victims officially dropping their suit and not pursuing an appeal.

The original story by Ethan Anderton from July 1, 2016 follows:

It’s been nearly four years since a mass shooting was committed at a movie theater during a screening of The Dark Knight Rises in the town of Aurora, Colorado. A total of 12 people were killed and another 70 were injured in the shooting, and the victims followed the tragedy with a lawsuit against the Cinemark theater chain, claiming they didn’t do enough to prevent a tragedy like that from happening.

However, a six-person jury ruled in favor of Cinemark back in May, saying the theater chain wasn’t partially liable for what happened. But it’s what is happening now in the aftermath of that trial that’s pretty messed up. Find out more about the Colorado movie theater shooting lawsuit after the jump.

Now that the decision has been made by a jury, Cinemark has filed paper work to seek $699,187.13 returned in legal fees from the 30 plaintiffs (victims and families of the deceased) involved in the case. Seriously, what the hell? That sounds like a truly awful thing to do to a group of people who have gone through enough already. But there might be a simple, though not necessarily admirable, motivation behind it.

First of all, this lawsuit against Cinemark felt a little unnecessary to begin with. Up until this shooting happened in a movie theater, no one was clamoring for more safety or prevention of violence in movie theaters. So to say that Cinemark didn’t do enough to prevent this shooting from happening is a little unfair. Almost all theaters in the country don’t do things like check purses, though most don’t allow backpacks, or have metal detectors, so to blame Cinemark for this just doesn’t entirely add up.

But the victims and their families filed the lawsuit, and the legal system didn’t rule in their favor. So why does Cinemark feel the need to twist the knife? Well, Deadline says that the plaintiffs’ lawyer Marc Bern said there likely would be an appeal of the verdict. So some legal experts are saying that this move by Cinemark to seek payment for the company’s legal fees is in an effort to stop any appeal from happening. Basically, if the plaintiffs don’t pursue an appeal, the theater chain won’t actually seek those fees.

It’s important to note that in June, Cinemark had a federal case on this matter dismissed as “a reasonable jury could not plausibly find that Cinemark’s actions or inactions were a substantial factor in causing this tragedy.” In that ruling, U.S. District Judge R. Brook Jackson awarded Cinemark “reasonable costs” in that case. But they haven’t sought out any payment for those costs, so it doesn’t sound like they’re out for money from the victims at all. They just want the case dropped, which doesn’t sound unreasonable since there have already been rulings on the matter ruling that Cinemark isn’t partially responsible.

All in all, it’s a very touchy situation, especially since lives are lost. But in reality, it doesn’t seem like you can blame negligence or inaction by Cinemark for the tragedy that unfolded in one of their theaters. But that’s not stopping the internet from being outraged, as highlighted by Vulture.

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