Hurdle Looms for ‘Dark Knight’ Shooting Victims Suing Theater

     DENVER (CN) – The movie theater where a dozen people were massacred at the midnight premiere of “The Dark Knight Rises” says it should not have to face a lawsuit from survivors.
     Cinemark USA’s motion to dismiss comes less than week after three survivors, Denise Traynom, Brandon Axelrod and Joshua Nowlan, filed the first two complaints over the July 20 shooting.
     James Holmes faces charges of murder and attempted murder for the rampage that left 12 dead and 58 injured.
     Claiming that it never could have predicted the rampage in Aurora, Cinemark USA says it cannot be held liable.
     Filed Thursday at the U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado, the motion draws parallels between its tragedy and other instances of domestic terror such as the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.
     “The common denominator is that they were unanticipated and unpredictable,” Cinemark says.
     The theater chain replies that it had no duty “to have foreseen and prevented the criminal equivalent of a meteor falling from the sky.”
     Claiming that Cinemark “should have known” of the possibility of an imminent attack is “patently unfair and legally unsound,” it says.
     “The essence of the complaint is that Cinemark ‘should have known’ that James Holmes would commit a mass murderous assault in the Century 16 Theatre,” the motion states. “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.”
     If Holmes’ psychiatrist, medical school teachers and own family and friends could not have predicted an assault of this magnitude, the motion argues, Cinemark could not possibly have predicted it.
     It would be similarly out of line for the survivors to say the studio that distributed “The Dark Knight,” or the parents who brought their children to see it in Aurora, could have foreseen the ensuing tragedy.
     “Instead, in plaintiffs’ view, it is the people employed by Cinemark – people who had never met the mass murderer and who are not trained in law enforcement or criminal pathology – who had the legal obligation to foresee that he would commit this shocking criminal act and, because they allegedly should have foreseen it, should have had in place measures that may have prevented it,” the motion states.
     Cinemark notes that the attack was unpredictable because of its fundamentally “random” nature.
     “Plaintiffs’ claims against Cinemark are grounded in nothing more than allegations that a random unbalanced individual randomly chose this theatre on this random night at this random time to randomly murder and injure other human beings,” the motion states. “Random acts, by very definition, are not legally foreseeable.”
     Though the survivors noted in their complaints that Cinemark had experienced a gang shooting prior to the “Dark Knight” screening, Cinemark calls this allegation “false.”
     “Prior to July 20, 2012, there had been no shooting of any kind at the theatre,” Cinemark says.
     Cinemark USA is represented by Kevin Taylor with Taylor Anderson.

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