The civil liability suit surrounding the infamous 2012 shooting has come to a close.
The tragic shooting, which took place four years ago in Aurora, Colorado claimed the lives of 12 innocent people and injured 70 more. At his criminal hearing, defendant James Holmes plead not guilty by reason of insanity. Despite arguments from Holmes' attorneys insisting he could not control his thoughts, evidence suggesting otherwise prevailed in the minds of the jurors, as they ultimately found Holmes guilty on all counts. He was, however, spared the death penalty in favor of multiple life sentences without the possibility of parole.
Thus, three years later victims' families were provided a much-needed, albeit small amount of closure, as jurors determined Holmes was well aware of what he was doing and should be held responsible. Crucial pieces of evidence included Holmes' purchase of his theater ticket nearly two weeks prior to the shooting, which suggested intent, and testimony from witnesses - including Holmes' ex-girlfriend - alleging Holmes had been of a sound mind at the time.
The court's involvement with tragic incident, however, did not end with this highly anticipated guilty verdict, as over two dozen family members filed civil suit in the Colorado District Court, seeking compensation from the movie theater. According to the filing, Cinemark bore financial responsibility for the repercussions of the shooting under the Colorado Premises Liability Act. More specifically, the "conditions," "activities," and "circumstances" that existed on the property established landowner liability and enabled victims' families to seek compensation.
In order to successfully recover damages, the plaintiffs needed to prove that Cinemark's actions/inactions had been the "proximate cause" or "a substantial factor" of the shooting. Although the shooting did occur on Cinemark property, the court disagreed with the notion that negligence on behalf of Cinemark had been a primary cause of the shooting.
The court referred to the treatment of a similar premise liability suit filed following the Columbine shootings and reiterated that it would be unreasonable to hold the property owners responsible for what had occurred. In both cases, the "premeditated criminal acts" of the respective shooters were identified as the predominant causes of the shootings, rather than the landowners' negligence.
The 2016 decision was both disappointing and initially frightening for victims' family members. Cinemark's win in court meant company owners were entitled to seek compensation for the $700,000 incurred in legal fees. Fortunately, Cinemark representatives announced this week that the company has no interest in recovering said costs, thereby bringing an end to all Dark Knight shooting litigation. With all motions pertaining to the shocking tragedy having come to an end, victims' loved ones will hopefully find some relief as they continue to grieve privately.