Judge says Aurora theater shooting lawsuits by victims, families should be thrown out

Law may bar suits for negligence, wrongful death

AURORA, Colo. - A federal judge has recommended that lawsuits by Aurora shooting victims and their families against the owner of the Century Aurora 16 movie theater be thrown out.

The theater, which is owned by Cinemark USA, was the site of a mass shooting that killed 12 people and injured 58 others on July 20, 2012.

Victims and families filed lawsuits against Cinemark last year, but U.S. Magistrate Judge Michael Hegarty recommended in an order filed Thursday that seven of the claims be thrown out, according to a report by the Denver Post.

Several victims who were wounded in the shooting and the families of slain victims filed suits against Cinemark, saying that poor security in the theater enabled the attack by accused shooter James Holmes.

In the order, Hegarty writes that Colorado law bars claims of negligence and wrongful death against the company.

Hegarty says that the claims could proceed if they allege violations of the Colorado Premises Liability Act.

"[S]o long as a person alleges injury that occurred on the property of another... the claim must be brought solely under the CPLA," Hegarty wrote in a quote provided by the Denver Post.

Hegarty will not oversee the cases, but his decision is highly influential in the outcome of the lawsuits.

At least 10 lawsuits have been filed against Cinemark as a result of the shooting, and Hegarty’s decision applies to seven of the cases.