A new lawsuit on behalf of victims of the July 20 Aurora theater shooting alleges that Cinemark Century 16 theater and its employees were negligent the night that a gunman propped open an exit door and returned with guns and ammunition for a shooting rampage.
The lawsuit alleges the Cinemark failed to provide sufficient security and training for a theater where shootings had occurred in the past, failed to provide alarms on "emergency exits" that would have alerted staff to the open door and failed to evacuate customers once the shooting began.
James Holmes, a former neuroscience graduate student, has been charged in the July 20 shooting that resulted in 12 deaths and 57 injuries during the Aurora premier of the Batman film The Dark Knight Rises. Police say the gunman entered the theater after buying a ticket, then propped open an emergency exit door and returned with weapons for the rampage.
"It's negligence," attorney Marc Bern of the firm Napoli Bern Ripka Shkolnik said after filing the lawsuit in Arapahoe County District Court. "We think that after discovery, we'll be able to prove their conduct was willful and wanton and we'll be eligible for punitive damages as well as compensatory."
Cinemark would not comment on the lawsuit. In motions to dismiss other lawsuits that were previously filed in connection with the shooting, it said the incident was not foreseeable.
In previous motions, Cinemark has said the exit doors were not emergency exits and that no previous shooting had occurred in the theater.
Several other wrongful death and personal injury lawsuits have been filed in federal court alleging security lapses in the theater that night.
The lawsuit names Century Theaters, Cinemark USA and two theater employees and 10 unnamed employees listed as John Does 1 through 10.
By Oren Dorell, USA TODAY