CENTENNIAL, Colo. (CBS4) — Cinemark will not have to pay 27 victims of the Aurora theater shooting, the jury in this month’s civil trial decided.
A group of the shooting victims and their families argued the nation’s third-largest movie theater chain should have done more to prevent the July 2012 attack. They sued Cinemark, saying it should have foreseen the risk for violence during the packed premiere of Batman movie “The Dark Knight Rises.”
The jury decided after three hours of deliberations that there was nothing the company could have done — even having additional security precautions in place — that might have thwarted the attack that left 12 dead and more than 50 others wounded.
During the trial, Cinemark’s attorneys argued it would be unfair to hold the company liable for a mass shooting because there’s no way it could have predicted an attack from a gunman as heavily armed as James Holmes.
They described Holmes as “unstoppable.”
Cinemark’s attorney Kevin Taylor said after the verdict was read that he knew from the start of the civil trial his client would win the case.
“We’ve heard the jury’s verdict that Cinemark endured a tremendous tragedy as did the victims of this case, as did the entire Aurora community, as did the first responders at the hands of a madman — James Holmes,” Taylor said. “And we’ve heard very loudly today the jury’s verdict that Mr. Holmes was completely unpredictable, unforeseeable, unpreventable and unstoppable.”
Marc Bern, an attorney representing the group of victims, said they plan to appeal the ruling.
“I had a pit in my stomach, I believe unfortunately this is an unjust verdict,” said Bern. “These victims of this tragedy have been dealt another blow.”
Bern believed Cinemark had the chance to prevent the attack and could have installed a silent alarm. The theater had additional security planned for the days after the shooting.
“Friday, Saturday and Sunday they always had armed guards in that theater but for a special event, expecting 1,000 people for the premiere of a blockbuster movie, they did not have that type of security,” said Bern.
Last year Holmes was sentenced to life in prison after a criminal trial in which he was found guilty in the attack.
“Mr. Holmes was completely developing his plans in secret. Also, he was armored to the teeth, more than a SWAT team member,” said Taylor.
Several other civil trials are pending surrounding the Aurora movie shooting, including another one against Cinemark and involving more victims.