The Huffington Post reports a Denver federal judge “ordered the consolidation of seven lawsuits brought against the Cinemark theater chain by survivors and relatives of those killed in a shooting rampage in which 12 moviegoers were slain as they watched a Batman film.”
Twelve people were killed and 58 wounded in the July 20th massacre when suspected gunman, James Holmes, opened fire on the Cinemark moviegoers during a midnight screening of The Dark Knight Rises. James Holmes is charged with multiple counts of murder and attempted murder, but the lawsuit against the theater chain alleges that Cinemark failed to take proper safety precautions to prevent such violent outbreaks.
U.S. District Judge R. Brooke Jackson set May 2014 as the earliest start date that any of the wrongful death and personal injury claims against the theater chain could proceed to trial. The idea behind merging several lawsuits is to streamline pre-trial proceedings and to avoid duplication of motions and depositions.
Huffington Post’s report said that,“ Cinemark has filed a motion seeking dismissal of the lawsuits, contending that the company and its employees could not have anticipated having to deal with “a madman’s mass murder” at the theater.”
“It would be patently unfair, and legally unsound,” the motion states, “to impose on Cinemark, a private business in the entertainment industry, the duty and burden to have foreseen and prevented the criminal equivalent of a meteor falling from the sky.”
A state judge who is presiding over the murder case against Holmes has denied requests by lawyers of several of the survivors for a court order to require prosecutors to turn over sealed evidence in the criminal investigation for review in the civil suits.