Movie theater chain goes on trial over 2012 Colorado massacre

Before you go, we thought you'd like these...

Civil suit against Cinemark headed to court

DENVER (Reuters) -- Jury selection was due to begin on Monday in Colorado for the first civil trial of wrongful death and personal injury claims stemming from a 2012 mass shooting in which 12 people were killed and dozens wounded in a suburban Denver movie theater.

READ MORE: Surprising new crisis threatens the Republican Party

A group of more than two dozen plaintiffs, including surviving victims and relatives of the dead, have sued the movie theater chain Cinemark USA and the cinema's property owners in state court, accusing them of various security lapses.

According to the lawsuit, the companies failed to hire sufficient security personnel in light of the cinema's previous history of shootings and other violence.

RELATED: Tributes to the shooting victims from 2012

20 PHOTOS
NTP: Crosses put up to honor Colorado theater shooting victims
See Gallery
Movie theater chain goes on trial over 2012 Colorado massacre
A row of crosses stands along Alameda Avenue near the intersection of Sable Boulevard to honor the 12 victims of the massacre at a nearby movie theatre and to mark the third anniversary of the killing spree, Monday, July 20, 2015, in Aurora, Colo. James Holmes, who had been working toward his Ph.D. in neuroscience, could get the death penalty for the massacre that left 12 people dead and dozens of others wounded early Friday, July 20, 2012. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
Traffic passes by a row of crosses erected to honor the 12 victims of the massacre in a nearby theatre in Aurora, Colo., on the day of the third anniversary of the killing spree Monday, July 20, 2015. James Holmes, who had been working toward his Ph.D. in neuroscience, could get the death penalty for the massacre that left 12 people dead and dozens of others wounded early Friday, July 20, 2012. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
While her 6-year-old grandson, Ace, waits by her side, Kathi Darciprette, back, writes a message on the heart hanging from a cross erected for Aurora, Colo., theatre massacre victim Micayla Medek as it stands in a row of crosses put up to mark the day of the third anniversary of the massacre at the nearby theater, Monday, July 20, 2015, in Aurora, Colo. Medek was a friend of the woman's daughter. James Holmes, who had been working toward his Ph.D. in neuroscience, could get the death penalty for the massacre that left 12 people dead and dozens of others wounded early Friday, July 20, 2012. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
Passers-by move past a row of crosses erected for the 12 victims of the massacre in a nearby movie theatre and to mark the day of the third anniversary of the killing spree, Monday, July 20, 2015, in Aurora, Colo. James Holmes, who had been working toward his Ph.D. in neuroscience, could get the death penalty for the massacre that left 12 people dead and dozens of others wounded early Friday, July 20, 2012. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
Travelers pass by 12 crosses erected for the victims of the massacre in a nearby theatre and to mark the day of the third anniversary of the killing spree Monday, July 20, 2015, in Aurora, Colo. James Holmes, who had been working toward his Ph.D. in neuroscience, could get the death penalty for the massacre that left 12 people dead and dozens of others wounded early Friday, July 20, 2012. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
Traffic zips by a row of crosses erected to honor the 12 victims of the massacre at a nearby theatre and to mark the third anniversary of the killing spree Monday, July 20, 2015, in Aurora, Colo. James Holmes, who had been working toward his Ph.D. in neuroscience, could get the death penalty for the massacre that left 12 people dead and dozens of others wounded early Friday, July 20, 2012. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
While her 6-year-old grandson, Ace, stays by her side, Kathi Darciprette, right, hangs a marker back on the cross for Micayla Medek, one of the victims of the massacre in a nearby movie theatre, after writing a message on a heart handing from the cross as mourners mark the day of the third anniversary of the shooting spree Monday, July 20, 2015, in Aurora, Colo. James Holmes, who had been working toward his Ph.D. in neuroscience, could get the death penalty for the massacre that left 12 people dead and dozens of others wounded early Friday, July 20, 2012. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
Sandy Phillips, whose daughter Jessica Ghawi was killed in the 2012 Aurora movie theatre massacre, carries a T-shirt memorializing the twelve people killed in the attack, outside the Arapahoe County District Court following the day of closing arguments in the trial of theater shootings defendant James Holmes, in Centennial, Colo., Tuesday July 14, 2015. (AP Photo/Brennan Linsley)
CENTENNIAL, CO - JULY 16: Shooting victim Caleb Medley (L) leaevs the Arapahoe County Justice Center after a verdict was delivered in the trial of James Holmes on July 16, 2015 in Centennial, Colorado. Holmes was found guilty on all counts in the 2012 movie theater shooting in Aurora, Colorado. (Photo by Theo Stroomer/Getty Images)
Sandy Phillips, center right, and husband Lonnie, whose daughter Jessica Ghawi was killed in the 2012 Aurora theater massacre, speak to members of the media after attending the reading of the verdict in the trial of shooter James Holmes in Centennial, Colo., Thursday, July 16, 2015. A jury convicted Holmes of killing 12 moviegoers and wounding dozens of others. (AP Photo/Brennan Linsley)
CENTENNIAL, CO - JULY 16: Jansen Young, an Aurora shooting victim whose boyfriend was killed, speaks after a verdict was delivered in the trial of James Holmes at the Arapahoe County Justice Center on July 16, 2015 in Centennial, Colorado. Holmes was found guilty on all counts in the 2012 movie theater shooting in Aurora, Colorado. (Photo by Theo Stroomer/Getty Images)
Josh Nowlan, right, one of the victims in the 2012 theater shootings in Aurora, Colo., is hugged as he heads in to hear the verdict against James Holmes as the trial concluded Thursday, July 16, 2015, in Centennial, Colo. The 27-year-old Holmes, who had been working toward his Ph.D. in neuroscience, could get the death penalty for the massacre that left 12 people dead and dozens of others wounded on July 20, 2012. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
Caren Teves wears a button bearing the likeness of her son, Alex, who was killed in the 2012 Aurora, Colo., theater massacre, as she talks to reporters after jurors convicted shooter James Holmes, Thursday, July 16, 2015, in Centennial, Colo. The 27-year-old Holmes could get the death penalty for the massacre that left 12 people dead and dozens of others wounded. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
Caleb Medley who was shot and injured in the 2012 Aurora, Colo., theater massacre, emerges from Arapahoe county Courthouse after jurors convicted shooter James Holmes as the trial concluded Thursday, July 16, 2015, in Centennial, Colo. The 27-year-old Holmes could get the death penalty for the massacre that left 12 people dead and dozens of others wounded. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
Katie Medley wheels her husband Caleb Medley, who was shot in the face in the 2012 Aurora movie theatre massacre, suffering paralysis and major brain trauma, as the two exit the Arapahoe County District Court accompanied by unnamed supporters following the day of closing arguments in the trial of theater shootings defendant James Holmes, in Centennial, Colo., Tuesday July 14, 2015. Katie Medley was also in the theater during the attack, and was 9-months pregnant at the time. (AP Photo/Brennan Linsley)
Hugo Medley, left, whose father Caleb was severely injured in the 2012 Aurora, Colo., theatermassacre, looks on after jurors convicted shooter James Holmes in the shooting spree, Thursday, July 16, 2015, in Centennial, Colo. Holmes could get the death penalty for the massacre that left 12 people dead and dozens of others wounded. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
Yousef Gharbi, left, who was shot in the head during the Aurora, Colo., theatre shooting, emerges from Arapahoe County Courthouse after jurors convicted theatre shooter James Holmes in the July 2012 shooting spree as the trial concluded Thursday, July 16, 2015, in Centennial, Colo. The 27-year-old Holmes, who had been working toward his Ph.D. in neuroscience, could get the death penalty for the massacre that left 12 people dead and dozens of others wounded early Friday, July 20, 2012. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
In this July 16, 2015 photo, Sandy Phillips, left, whose daughter Jessica Ghawi was killed in the 2012 Aurora movie theatre massacre, sits with her friend Caren Teves, who lost her son Alex in the attack, during an interview with The Associated Press, at a park near the Arapahoe County District Court, in Centennial, Colo. Phillips and Teves have become particularly close in the years since they suffered similar loses, sharing phone calls and text messages at moments they instinctually know will be difficult. With the Colorado theater shooter convicted of murder, survivors and relatives of the dead face an uncertain future after the trial comes to an end. (AP Photo/Brennan Linsley)
CENTENNIAL, CO - JULY 16: Lonnie and Sandy Phillips, the parents of shooting victim Jessica Ghawi, speak after a verdict was delivered in the trial of James Holmes at the Arapahoe County Justice Center on July 16, 2015 in Centennial, Colorado. Holmes was found guilty on all counts in the 2012 movie theater shooting in Aurora, Colorado. (Photo by Theo Stroomer/Getty Images)
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE
SHOW CAPTION +
HIDE CAPTION

It also cited a lack of surveillance cameras around the theater's perimeter, a faulty emergency exit alarm that failed to go off when the gunman launched his attack through the cinema's rear door, and the failure of theater security personnel to intervene once the shooting started.

Plaintiffs' attorney Marc Bern said Cinemark was especially negligent in failing to notify its general managers about a U.S. Department of Homeland Security advisory issued in May 2012 warning that movie theaters had been deemed potential targets for terrorism.

Texas-based Cinemark owns the Century 16 Theater multiplex where the gunman, James Holmes, opened fire with a semiautomatic rifle, shotgun and pistol during a midnight screening of the Batman film "The Dark Knight Rises" on July 20, 2012.

In its answer to the lawsuit, Cinemark said the case should be dismissed because the chain "did not have the legal duty to foresee the injury-causing mass murderous assault committed by James Holmes, nor did it have the legal duty to prevent it."

Holmes, a former neuroscience graduate student who pleaded innocent by reason of insanity, was found guilty last summer of murdering 12 people and wounding 70 in the rampage, and was sentenced to life in prison.

Jury selection in the civil trial, the first arising from the fatal rampage, was slated to begin in Arapahoe County District Court in Centennial, Colorado, with opening arguments expected to possibly get under way by day's end.

The plaintiffs are seeking unspecified damages for past and future economic losses, including medical expenses, lost wages and earning potential and disability, as well as for pain, suffering and emotional stress.

A separate personal injury and wrongful death case filed in federal court is expected to go to trial in July.

Read Full Story

People are Reading