DENVER Aug 15 A federal judge has again refused
to dismiss wrongful death and personal injury lawsuits filed
against a movie theater chain by victims of a 2012 mass shooting
at a Colorado cinema where 12 people were killed and dozens
U.S. District Judge R. Brooke Jackson on Friday rejected a
motion for summary judgment filed by lawyers for Texas-based
Cinemark USA to dismiss the lawsuits.
Nearly 30 victims or the families of those killed or wounded
in the rampage have sued Cinemark, owner of the theater complex
where the massacre took place.
In general, the lawsuits claim Cinemark had lax security at
its theater in the Denver suburb of Aurora when a gunman opened
fired during a midnight screening of the Batman film "The Dark
Jackson issued a similar ruling in April 2013 when lawyers
for Cinemark argued that theater employees could not have
anticipated having to deal with "a madman's mass murder."
"It would be patently unfair, and legally unsound, to impose
on Cinemark, a private business in the entertainment industry,
the duty and burden to have foreseen and prevented the criminal
equivalent of a meteor falling from the sky," the motion by
Cinemark's lawyers said.
The accused gunman, James Holmes, 26, has pleaded not guilty
by reason of insanity, and is set to go on trial in December.
Cinemark, owned by Cinemark Holdings Inc, renewed
its bid to have the case tossed, arguing that the plaintiffs
have not developed enough facts to justify a trial, a notion
that Jackson rejected.
Jackson noted that 80 of Cinemark's 300 theaters did hire
off-duty police or private security firms for the midnight
viewing of the Batman movie, but the Aurora theater chose not
Jackson stressed in his opinion that he was not ruling on
the merits of the case, merely that the issue should be left up
to a jury to decide.
"I reiterate that this Court is in no way holding as a
matter of law that Cinemark should have known of the danger of
someone entering one of its theaters through the back door and
randomly shooting innocent patrons," Jackson wrote.
"A genuine fact dispute must be resolved by the trier of
fact, not by a court's granting summary judgment."
(Editing by Daniel Wallis and Eric Walsh)