Appeal Sought by Some Colorado Theater Victims in Dismissal of Cinemark Suit

August 5, 2016

Some victims of a 2012 shooting at a Colorado movie theater are appealing a judge’s decision to scrap their lawsuits against the theater chain.

Judge R. Brooke Jackson dismissed the suits in June. He said they should not go to trial because a lack of guards and other security measures was not a substantial factor in the massacre.

Jurors in a similar state court case also sided with Cinemark, finding the company was not to blame and that there was no way the company could have safeguarded against the attack and is not responsible for victims’ life-altering injuries that require psychiatric care, medical equipment, prosthetic limbs, occupational and speech therapy, and other treatment.

In recently filed court documents, four people wounded in the attack asked the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to review the decision in favor of Cinemark. The survivors argued in lawsuits that the nation’s third-largest theater chain should have done more to prevent the shooting that left 12 dead and more 70 injured.

Shooter James Holmes is serving a life prison sentence for the attack that killed 12 people and injured more than 70 others.

Attorney Marc Bern, who represents the 27 plaintiffs – survivors and families of people killed – said a judge had kept jurors from seeing key evidence that would have changed their minds.

Without the lawsuits, victims have few other options to gain money for their recovery, said Jeff Dion, director of the National Crime Victim Bar Association.

Private donations and money from the state’s crime victim compensation fund probably won’t be enough to cover all of their needs, Dion said. And, he added, they won’t likely see any of the $955,000 in restitution Holmes was ordered to pay after he was sentenced last year to life in prison.

“If he’s in prison and making 26 cents an hour, that’s not going to go a long way toward compensating all the people whose lives he’s destroyed,” Dion said. “These people have such catastrophic and ongoing needs, there aren’t really resources in the civil justice system or crime victim compensation to pay for that.”

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