1. Does awful luck always have to mean a lawsuit?
As Alison Frankel reported in her Thomson Reuters litigation column, last week a federal judge in Colorado refused to dismiss a suit brought by victims of the movie massacre in Aurora, Colorado against Cinemark, the theater chain that owned the Aurora venue.
The judge, as Frankel reports, wrote in his decision that “his first reaction to suits against Cinemark was, ‘How could a theater be expected to prevent something like this.’” But he went on to rule, according to Frankel, that:
[V]ictims should be allowed to probe exactly what Cinemark knew about past criminal activities at the Aurora theater (which had been the site of occasional gang-related violence), what it should have known about the risk of shootings, and what informed its decisions about safety and security for moviegoers. Holmes [the alleged shooter], after all, apparently made more than one trip from the theater to his car, where he had stored weapons and ammunition, and each time returned to the theater via a door he had propped open. “This took an extended period of time, but he was not monitored, deterred or contacted by theater personnel,” the judge said. [Judge] Jackson also noted that the theater didn’t bring in security guards for the midnight Batman premiere, even though it often hired security on the weekends.
To be sure, the judge noted that this was a close call and that he might end up giving the theater owner summary judgment after he reviews pre-trial discovery. Nonetheless, he has opened the door to expensive litigation brought by people who had tragically bad luck against a corporate defendant whose pockets are deep but for whom finding fault would be, to put it mildly, quite a stretch.
Not only does the green light for this case deserve coverage far beyond Frankel’s column, it also suggests lots of related, broader stories: