Should the Cinemark Theater chain be held liable for the carnage wrought by mass killer James Holmes?
Jurors will begin hearing evidence in the lawsuit against Cinemark on Tuesday.
Twenty-seven plaintiffs, including the survivors of two of those killed, have filed suit against the theater chain alleging that Cinemark didn’t take security seriously.
The five men and three women jury will ultimately decide whether Cinemark should have done more to protect patrons.
“We believe that living in a post 9/11 world, as we do, we have to have vigilance and security that’s different that it was on Sept. 10, 2011,” said plaintiff’s attorney Marc Bern.
The lawsuit alleges there were a number of security issues the night of the shooting, that the theater didn’t hire extra security for the premier as management had done previously and that there was no alarm on the emergency exit, which allowed the shooter to prop the door open, so the shooter could easily re-enter.
“This is about justice,” Bern said. “This is about the fifth-largest movie theater corporation, at the time, the second-largest now, not doing what they should have done to protect paying customers.”
Bern told Denver7 that Homeland Security had sent a warning to theaters that they could be targeted by terrorists.
He argued that the warning should be admitted as evidence in the civil trial, but the judge disagreed, saying it could unfairly prejudice the jury.
“I think the judge was wrong,” Bern said. “I think it’s clearly admissible."
Bern said the head of security for Cinemark had testified in his deposition that the theater’s general manager is considered security personnel.
“Yet they (HQ) failed to give the warning to the individuals on the ground who are responsible for security,” Bern said, equating James Holmes to a terrorist.
Cinemark’s attorney, Kevin Taylor, countered that there was no credible information that terrorists had infiltrated the United States and that without specific intelligence about a specific act, it couldn’t be foreseen.
Taylor said Holmes was not a terrorist, he was a man with mental issues.
“Cinemark feels horrible about what happened in this tragedy,” Taylor told Denver7. “But, as the evidence will show, it was completely unpredictable and unpreventable."
The trial is expected to last three weeks.