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James Holmes case: Aurora Century 16 owner Cinemark files to dismiss victims' lawsuits

Thumbnail image for century 16 website photo.jpg
Update: Mere hours after we published a post about the possible impact of lawsuits filed Aurora theater shooting victims on plans to reopen the Century 16, shuttered since the July 20 massacre that killed twelve and injured 58, Cinemark provided an answer -- in court. The Texas-based owner of the theater filed a motion asking that the lawsuits be dismissed on the grounds that no one could have foreseen the actions of James Holmes, the accused killer.

As we've reported, two suits -- the first jointly filed by Denise Traynom and Brandon Axelrod, the other by Joshua Nowlan, all of whom sustained injuries in the attack -- argue that because of past incidents at the Century 16, including "at least one shooting, involving gang members," plus assaults and robberies, the theater should have had security personnel on hand for the midnight screenings of The Dark Knight Rises, during which the assault took place. The complaints also take Cinemark to task for failing to have alarms that would have alerted employees after Holmes allegedly blocked open the exit door in order to arm himself.

Cinemark rejects these claims, according to a document cited by 9News. Here are some excerpts from the motion:

The essence of the complaint is that Cinemark "should have known" that James Holmes would commit a mass murderous assault in the Century 16 Theater on July 20.... Federal, state and local law-enforcement entities...would not be expected to foresee Mr. Holmes' criminal conduct.... Family members and friends who knew him personally for multiple years did not foresee it....

It would be patently unfair, and legally unsound, to impose on Cinemark...the duty and burden to have foreseen and prevented the criminal equivalent of a meteor falling from the sky. Thus, even accepting the allegations in the complaint as true, plaintiffs cannot state a claim that anyone other than Mr. Holmes, the irrational killer, is responsible for the consequences of his criminal conduct.

Our interview request yesterday to Cinemark vice president of communication and marketing James Meredith has not been returned, and neither have at least six calls for comment to City of Aurora spokeswoman Kim Stuart.

Continue for our previous coverage.

Original post, 11:12 a.m. September 27: Lawsuits by three surviving victims of the July 20 Aurora theater shooting name Cinemark, the Texas company that owns the Century 16, where James Holmes is accused of killing twelve people and injuring 58. These documents were made public on the same day Cinemark announced its intention to reopen the theater. Will the suits affect these plans? Neither Cinemark nor the City of Aurora has addressed the question thus far.

On September 20, 9News reported the results of a survey about reopening the Century 16; it was conducted by the City of Aurora, mainly through its Facebook page. According to the station, the majority of respondents wanted the theater to reopen. But 9News didn't note the final percentage or provide any details about whether Aurora made an effort to insure that the people weighing in were actual residents of the community.

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Steve Hogan.
In an effort to get more details, I made an interview request the following morning with City of Aurora spokeswoman Kim Stuart. A few hours later, I received a call from someone else on staff asking on Stuart's behalf for more information about my questions, but she did not get back to me afterward -- and neither has she responded to multiple messages left today.

Later on Friday, Aurora issued a news update revealing that Mayor Steve Hogan had sent a letter to Cinemark President and CEO Tim Warner on September 12 expressing a desire that the company reopen the Century 16. Here's an excerpt from that letter, which can be read in its entirety below:

While no one will ever forget that day, it is now time to look forward and plan for the future. We believe that we are hearing, and indeed have heard for some time, a collective wish and desire for the theater to re-open. We understand that it will need to be refurbished and we hope you will be able to take on that task. As part of that process, there will certainly be some special circumstances to be addressed. These include possible provision for visitation by survivors and families of the deceased, discussions surrounding memorials and possible facade modification. All of these, and others, will be addressed through ongoing conversation.
Warner replied to Hogan in a letter dated September 20 but not made public until the next day; it, too, can also be seen below. After noting that "we will never forget the victims and their families," Warner wrote:
As you know, the city of Aurora is important to us, individually and as a company. It will be our privilege to re-open the theater. We pledge to reconfigure the space and make the theater better than ever.
Hogan added that the firm hopes to have the Century 16 up and running "by the beginning of the New Year."

This news arrived around the same time as two lawsuits from individuals who were injured in the theater shooting -- one was filed jointly by Denise Traynom and Brandon Axelrod, the other by Joshua Nowlan. (Traynom was shot in the gluteus maximus while she and Axlerod, who suffered knee damage, took refuge behind seats during the attack; Nowlan's arm was almost severed by a bullet, and he was also hit in one leg.) The trio is represented by Denver-based Keating Wagner Polidori Free, P.C, which filed the suits in United States District Court for the District of Colorado. Both suits name Cinemark, because of what the text describes as security shortfalls that add up to negligence on the part of the company.

Continue to read more about claims against Cinemark and see letters from the company and Steve Hogan, as well as the lawsuits.



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10 comments
smurfguru
smurfguru

Good lord, they didn't tear down the Aurora Mall a few years back when there was a shooting inside. The replaced the library at Columbine but the school is still there. And if you look at where the memorial was there is a sign stating that it was taken down and moved to a museum, so it doesn't get destroyed by the weather. Good for you Cinemark for reopening. I'll be there to support your business the day it reopens, it wasn't your fault and I miss my neighborhood theater.

RevBF
RevBF

I get that people would want to rip it down and build a memorial there, but by doing so we're acting as if their victimization is any different than any of the other murders that happen in the nation. I see kayleigh94 says she works in the Aurora Mall - and I'd be hard pressed to think that she knows how many people have been killed in or around that mall since it's been opened. Do you see any memorials? How come these 13 are going to be memorialized when we very rarely even see flowers out on the street corners of slain individuals from the same kind of senseless crimes? Bottom line is that it is private property and they can do with it what they choose. It was a popular theater so why allow one man's insane crime ruin it for the community? There doesn't have to be a room 9 - out of respect, and a small remembrance plaque wouldn't be at all tacky - which is what I assume the owners will do - but to say that the land has to be thrown into defunctness for only 13 murders is pretty inane. Unless of course we start a campaign to make memorials for everyone who has been and will be murdered senselessly around the Denver-metro area. Perhaps the families of the movie theater victims will donate their fund money to make this happen? Because victims of other senseless crimes rarely have the luxury of having strangers hand them money so it would only be fair.

kayleigh94
kayleigh94

This is sick. I think they should take it down and put a memorial. I work at Aurora Mall (across the street  from the theater) and they have taken down the only memorial that was there. They need to honor these people in some way. and i think that opening that movie theater is discusting and disrespectful, and i think people will be to freaked out to go in there, and it will eventually close.

vicky
vicky

And Ryan i would kinda be grossed out going into that place anyway maybe they can put a memorial there and relocate the place..

vicky
vicky

If they open the theater again i hope they dont open the room where the shooting happened.....

Jimmy Jonas
Jimmy Jonas

Ha. It's only a suggestion idiot.. my voice.. my point of view..

Ryan Terpstra
Ryan Terpstra

How nice of you to decide what should be done with property you don't own.

Jimmy Jonas
Jimmy Jonas

They should tear it down and build a park..

michael.roberts
michael.roberts moderator editortopcommenter

 @bafrederickcmb Thanks for the post, bafrederickcmb. We're going to make it an upcoming Comment of the Day. Much appreciated.

kayleigh94
kayleigh94

 @bafrederickcmb

 But they do have memorials for people who have died. They have a memorial for columbine, people can put up a cross for when their loved ones get in an accident and die. BUT, maybe you are right. I think these people should be honored in some way. Honestly, i have never thought about that.

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