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Wrongful Death Claims Kept Open In Aurora Shootings

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(credit: CBS)

(credit: CBS)

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DENVER (AP/CBS4) — A federal judge has declined to dismiss wrongful death and liability claims filed against Cinemark USA, the company that owns the Colorado theater where 12 people were shot to death last summer.

In a ruling released Wednesday, Judge R. Brooke Johnson dismissed separate claims that Cinemark was negligent in the July 20 shootings, which left a dozen dead and 58 others injured. The ruling was one of several legal hurdles the lawsuits had to clear before trial.

In his opinion Johnson said the case comes down to two questions, did Cinemark know there was a danger of someone entering the theater through a back exit to commit an act of violence and did it exercise protective care.

A spokeswoman for Cinemark said the company had no comment.

The ruling came in 10 lawsuits. The plaintiffs include relatives of the dead, people who were injured and witnesses.

In hearings attorneys for the victims argued the theater did not do enough to prevent what happened.

“It is not unforseeable that there would be an event there. What kind of event, would it be a gangmans to come in with a gun, could it be a lunatic? Unfortunately in this present day we must forsee that people will do something that is off from what we expect,” said the plaintiffs’ attorney Mike Sawaya.

“How could a theater be expected to prevent something like this? I confess that I am one of those people,” said Johnson.

The families argued the theater regularly hired security guards for Friday and Saturday nights but did not do so for the midnight premiere of “Batman: The Dark Knight Rises.”

They claimed the theater was negligent but he judge threw out all of those allegations and kept the wrongful death claims.

James Holmes has been charged with multiple counts of murder and attempted murder. A judge entered a not guilty plea on his behalf. Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty.

Sawaya represents six of those who have filed lawsuits. He believes they can prove the theater did not do enough to protect the victims.

(TM and © Copyright 2013 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2012 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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