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Pivotal Ruling In Aurora Theater Shooting Case

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CENTENNIAL, Colo. (CBS4) – It’s now up to a jury to decide whether or not the Century 16 Theater should have been more prepared for the mass shooting two years ago.

Families of the victims say the theater had reason to beef up security that night. The judge has said those families still have a long way to go convince a jury.

The criminal case is tied up in legal proceedings, but the civil suit filed against the Century Theater and its parent company Cinemark moves forward.

“Did Cinemark know or should they have known of the dangers involved in this particular theater and should they have done something to prevent it?” CBS4 Legal Analyst Karen Steinhauser said.

The judge has decided that question should be up to a jury. The ruling says given the modern day propensity for mass shootings, the Aurora theater shooting wasn’t out of the realm of possibilities.

“Since 1984 the court cited 31 mass shootings. We’re talking about shootings in schools, we’re talking about shootings in malls, in places where he likened to the theater in terms of people being sitting ducks,”Steinhauser said.

The plaintiffs have brought up several issues like the fact that in 2009 a security firm told Cinemark it should develop an active shooter protocol. In May just before the theater shooting, the Deparment of Homeland Security warned Cinemark of theaters being targeted overseas. And out of 300 Cinemark theaters showing the movie that night, at least 80 chose to hire security guards for that evening.

“Obviously some theaters knew that there was a concern or at least something that they should be aware of so that patrons of that midnight show were being protected.”

The judge emphasized that the plaintiffs have a long way to go before they convince a jury of their case. Steinhauser says that it’s like that the theater company will appeal the ruling.

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