Three Victims Sue Theater At Center of Aurora Colorado Shootings

By Mark Esposito, Guest Blogger

Three wounded patrons of the now infamous midnight showing of the latest Batman flick, The Dark Knight Rises, have filed suit against owners of the Aurora 16 movie theater. The negligence suit claims, that despite knowing about the large crowds sure to attend the blockbuster movie premier, movie-house proprietors failed to provide security personnel or door alarm systems that could have prevented the shooter, James Holmes, from unleashing his mayhem.

The plaintiffs, Joshua Nowlan, Denise Traynom and Brandon Axelrod, claim that Cinemark USA Inc. permitted Holmes unfettered access to the theater and allowed him to go in and out of the theater several times undetected to retrieve a “virtual arsenal of weapons, including, but not limited to, one or more fully loaded shotguns, an AR-15 assault rifle, one or more fully loaded, automatic Glock handguns, and several tear gas canisters.” They also allege “The exterior doors to the theater were lacking in any alarm system, interlocking security systems, or any other security or alarm features.”

Nowland was struck in the arm and leg by bullets, and Traynom was shot in the buttocks. Axelrod injured his knee and ankle. The trio who were seated together on that horrible night and managed to stay alive by piling on top of each other. They are now represented by the Denver law firm of Keating, Wagner, Polidori & Free.

Generally, owners of businesses are not liable for the criminal acts occurring on their premises unless they are foreseeable. The law has always presumed that the perpetrator of the harm is responsible in tort for his deeds, and, unless the proprietor has reason to believe that a crime is likely to occur, has no responsibility to his customer to protect him or her. However, in most states, the owner of a business does have the responsibility to keep his premises reasonably secure if he/she is aware that a large crowd is likely.

Various claims have been brought against concert promoters for inadequate security or poor crowd control resulting in harm to patrons. In a famous case in 1979, promoters of the rock band, The Who, paid out millions in settlements to concertgoers in Cincinnati who were injured when crowds rushed the doors and asphyxiated seven teenagers. The practice known as “festival seating” (first come, first served) was regarded as the negligent policy. The City of Cincinnati and even the band were sued, but all agreed the wrongful act of rushing the doors by the crowd precipitated the deaths and injuries.

More recently, the country western band, Sugarland, and its concert promoters were sued this year when a stage collapsed at  the 2011 Indiana State Fair following a violent thunderstorm.  A gust of wind toppled scaffolding just before the band was to begin playing.  Seven young people were killed and 40 were injured. The band contended they had nothing to do with constructing the stage and that the storm was an “Act of God.”  However, according to an affidavit of the fair’s executive director, the band twice refused to delay their performance despite knowledge of the impending storm. In March, lawmakers in Indiana voted to exceed the state’s tort cap and pledged $6 Million to the victims. The case against Sugarland is pending.

Should owners of premises be liable for failing to control the criminal or wrongful acts of their patrons? Are they likewise required to foresee “Acts of God’ on their premises?

Source: CNN

~Mark Esposito, Guest Blogger

54 thoughts on “Three Victims Sue Theater At Center of Aurora Colorado Shootings”

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  4. If the theater posts that NO FIREARMS are allowed, (legal CC), then THEY assume responsibility for the safety of their patrons!!

    They should have had armed security of their own then.

  5. Kraaken, if the govt has anything to say about it, I’m sure it will be in place soon. I know they’re already planning on games, buses, trains, highways. Next I’m sure it will be schools, theaters, libraries and grocery stores. Hitler must be guffawing in his grave!

  6. Feemeister: >”OH MY GOSH YA”LL!!!!!! THE TSA WAS SATIRE!”<

    While reading the posts on this topic, my first thought "Oh Jayzus, next thing we know we're going to have to do the back-scatter & grope to see a frickin' movie(that was before I even GOT to the first mention of the TSA!" Satire it might have been, but, given the reaction of the government to other things, (not to mention the well reasoned arguments of many people here) it might not be as satirical as one would think.

    Darren Smith: Bullseye.


    Idealist, I wasn’t born here, but moved here 52 years ago, so am pretty much Floridian. Not dead yet, and not crooked. I know ya’ll won’t believe it, but there are many many VERY normal people here in Florida! and we even have some good cops and some good judges! And over the years, I have worked for some durn good attorneys here. (We don’t have snowbirds where I live, but I’m in the nawth part now where it actually gets COLD sometimes–went down to 7 degrees my first summer I moved to N Florida, and I thought I had migrated to the nawth pole! I think it’s too cold for snowbirds up here!)

    Seeing that the government has deemed that its citizens are terrorists, and WE are the ones that need to be kept in line, and they have come up with DHS and TSA to do it (Otteray, LOVED the pilot story by the way, how typical is THAT), very conveniently this whole Aurora scenario plays right into their hands. It played into their hands by showing the people who believe them, that 1.) The UN’s treaty on guns should be put into place here, and 2.) We need the TSA on every street corner to save us from ourselves. (Another excuse for the Gestapo to appear everywhere we go and demand to see our papers, and everything inside our clothes that they want to see or grope.)

    Give me liberty, or give me death.

    I think death here can be equated with TSA in your face everywhere, or drones over your head everywhere, or surveillance cameras every few feet along the sidewalks, or possibly not being able to go in a movie theater without being molested. I LOVE freedom. Police states, not so much!

  8. I am late to this discussion, but I do think reasonablel safety measures by any public building where large crowds are expected and encouraged by the owners. I am not for the TSA nonsense as outlined by others, but how about checking your guns at the door? If it is ok to have metal detectors at high schools in urban areas, why not movie theaters at all doors?

  9. 80% of lawsuits are bullshit. Of the remaining 20%, 80% of those have the wrong person being sued – they just happen to have the deepest pockets.

  10. So Florida is just an oversized Disneyland which the Spanish abandoned and the Cubans retrieved. It is populated by snow-bird retirees with alligator skins, NASA-refugees who got eased out and now drive taxis, mixed with eased out CIA OFTPOTS, and the usual criminal suspects.

    Some are just innocent, they were born there. But as folks say: if you are born in a crooked place then you either become crooked or you are killed. What happened to Trayvon?

  11. David B: “Pessimists and eeyore probably have 95 bad ones for every 5 good ones.” I’d enlarge that to say,

    Pessimists, Eeyore and people who have lived in Florida probably have 95 bad ones for every 5 good ones. 😡

  12. David,

    You were in fine form yesterday. I went to bed at 3AM, 9PM ET. So reading now, waiting for my oatmeal to cook.
    -ularly illy nilly is difficult to stop in speech, so follows the writing—for me I hasten to add.

    I got my short codes for phrases from radio telegraphy.

    So thank you is TU or thanks TNX. CUL is see you later. 73 is best regards. And to your lovey you can say 88, which is love and kisses.

    In the bars in LA in the ’60s if you were 86’d then you were banned from that one. Never heard it otherwise.


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