Cinemark Asks Judge to Dismiss Colorado Theater Shooting Victims’ Suit

The theater chain says its employees could not have known that the accused shooter James Holmes was unbalanced and homicidal

Last Updated: September 28, 2012 @ 12:57 PM

Cinemark is urging a Colorado judge to dismiss a complaint holding the theater chain responsible for a mass shooting at a screening of "The Dark Knight Rises."

Getty ImagesIn court filings, Cinemark argues that its employees could not have foreseen the carnage that would take place at a midnight screening of the superhero sequel.

Alleged shooter James Holmes killed a dozen people and injured 58 others at an Aurora theater owned by Cinemark; prosecutors in Colorado have filed 24 counts of murder against him.

In a suit filed on behalf of three victims of the shooting, Denise Traynom, Brandon Axelrod and Joshua Nowlan, attorneys for the plaintiffs argue that an emergency exit door Holmes allegedly used to access weapons from his car should have been alarmed. All three victims were injured.

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In its response to the suit, Cinemark argues that if those closest to Holmes could not have anticipated that he would open fire in a crowded movie theater, it could not have been expected to do anything different.

The response reads: "Never mind that federal, state and local law enforcement entities, trained in anticipating criminal conduct and armed with extensive resources, did not foresee — and would not be expected to foresee — Mr. Holmes' criminal conduct; that family members and friends who knew him personally and for multiple years did not foresee it; that a treating psychiatrist apparently did not foresee it; that personnel at the University of Colorado, who interacted with him regularly, apparently did not foresee it; that firearm and ammunition manufacturers and suppliers, who provided him with the means for mass murder, did not foresee it; that the studio that distributed the film did not foresee it; and that adult patrons in the theater on the night in question, some of whom accompanied young children under their care, did not foresee it."

The company argues that the plaintiffs suit should be "politely declined," because it was a random act, which means Cinemark is not legally culpable.

"The people at Cinemark, like people across this country, are horrified, shocked, and deeply saddened by the senseless deaths and injuries caused by Mr. Holmes’ criminal act," the response reads. "The Theatre’s employees on the night in question, who reacted bravely to the unexpected onslaught, are particularly affected. However, it is legally improper, and grossly unfair, to place on a private business entity operated by private citizens the legal obligation to foresee the patently unforeseeable conduct of the criminally unbalanced, most particularly where the criminal act is random and unprecedented in its business activities."

A spokesman for Cinemark declined to comment and an attorney for the plaintiffs did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Pamela Chelin contributed to this report.