Aurora theater shooting spawns eighth lawsuit (at least) against Cinemark

chichi spruel.jpg
Chichi Spruel.
The Aurora Century 16, where James Holmes allegedly killed twelve and injured seventy, is slated to reopen next Thursday, January 17. But the attempts by Century 16 owner Cinemark to move on haven't stopped the shooting-related lawsuits against the firm that have appeared regularly over the past six months. The latest, filed by Chichi and Derick Spruel, is at least the eighth. Details below.

The Spruels were attending the July 20 screening of The Dark Knight Rises with their friend Jesse Childress, one of the dozen patrons who lost their lives in the attack.

jesse childress cropped large.jpg
Jesse Childress.
The lawsuit's account of what happened shortly after the film began to play is detailed and startling. The entire document is on view below, but here's an excerpt:
Plaintiff, Chichi Spruel, initially thought that someone was setting fireworks off in the theatre, and turned to her husband, Derick Spruel, for confirmation. When she turned toward her husband she looked in front of the chair her husband was sitting in and saw that the person sitting in the seat in front of her husband was laying face up, with blood on his head, and had apparently been killed by the gunshots. She then realized that she had to get out of the line of fire and immediately lay down on the floor in front of her seat, and called 911. Her friend, Jesse Childress, was laying face down on the floor in a pool of blood, apparently killed by the gunshots.

Plaintiff, Derick Spruel, first saw and heard an object pass over his head and then heard loud popping sounds from the rear of the theatre and saw flashes in the corner of the theatre. He saw his friend, Jesse Childress stand up and move in front of his other friend, Munirih Gravelly. At that point, Jesse Childress stumbled into his arms, and Mr. Spruel told everyone around him to get down. While Plaintiff, Derick Spruel, was lying on the floor he heard the man in front of him gurgling on his own blood, apparently in the throes of death. Immediately after hearing the man dying in front of him he heard a man yelling that his child was shot. He heard several types of gunfire at various times, ranging from what sounded like it was a from 9mm weapon to an AR-15 assault rifle. When Plaintiff, Derick Spruel, was finally able to stand up, he immediately reached down for Jesse Childress, and told him to get up. When he reached for him he could tell something was wrong, because he felt so heavy and it was hard to move him. When his eyes finally focused on Mr. Childress, he observed that he was lying in a pool of blood, not moving and had apparently been killed by the gunshots.

The lawsuit's allegations against Cinemark are similar to those found in other complaints against the company, the first of which arrived in September, but it features some additional factoids. For instance, the Spruels' suit alleges that between March 20 and July 19 of 2012, approximately 99 emergency 911 calls, plus "35 additional calls involving assaults, concealed weapons, disorderly conduct, a shooting, robberies and suspicious persons" pointed to the Century 16 or locations in its immediate vicinity. The above are said to have included nine calls "involving suspicious activity, mental health, fighting and emergency 911 calls" -- yet "no security personnel were present" for the Dark Knight midnight premiere.

Moreover, the suit goes on, the exterior doors to the theater, through which Holmes is thought to have entered the auditorium where he opened fire, had no "alarm system, interlocking security systems, or any other security or alarm features which would have put Defendant's employees or security personnel on notice that someone had surreptitiously left the theater by the exterior door and had put the door in an open position which would facilitate a surreptitious and unlawful re-entry."

Cinemark has refuted these negligence claims and others like it in filings that ask for previous complaints against it be dismissed. But as the latest document shows, the suits just keep coming.

Continue to read more about lawsuits against Cinemark, including a copy of the latest.

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My Voice Nation Help

If you don't feel safe in public, stay home. I'm pretty sure victims of drunk drivers don't sue the car manufacturer, or the state for providing unsafe roads.

Shanti Klemm
Shanti Klemm

I personally think this is ridiculous. It would have to be proven that the theater was.negligent and foresaw something like this happening but did nothing to prevent it...which is not the case. Place blame where it rightfully belongs and that's with James Holmes.

Kim Daub
Kim Daub

As horrible as this event is, especially for those who lost loved ones - what does suing the theater accomplish? I just don't get it ... the only person to blame is the POS that did it.

Brandon Adian
Brandon Adian

^^^irrelevant, selfish and ignorant. You should learn some respect.


In a way I'm hoping that one of these reaching lawsuits stick because then when I go to the movies I can come back and also sue, saying that too much security makes me feel uneasy and also gives me long term anxiety. I feel for the people that were there, really, but suing is far from something that's going to alleviate any conditions or concerns. The only thing it will manage to do is raise ticket prices on the already egregious price tag because the cost of added security will trickle down to the consumers. I hate to be the one to say what others are thinking, but, if you feel unsafe at a movie theater there's always NetFlix.

michael.roberts moderator editortopcommenter

@RevBF Very interesting post, RevBF. We're going to make it an upcoming Comment of the Day. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

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