A Cinemark Holdings Inc. unit was accused of failing to take security precautions in a lawsuit filed behalf of victims of the July 20 theater shooting in Aurora, Colorado, in which 12 people were killed.
James Holmes is accused of opening fire on the audience at a midnight screening of “The Dark Knight Rises.” Holmes, who studied neuroscience at the University of Colorado-Denver, is charged in state court in Centennial with 24 counts of first-degree murder for the 12 people killed in the shooting. First-degree murder can carry the death penalty in Colorado.
Before the shooting, Cinemark had information about previous disturbances at the theater, including at least one shooting as well as assaults and robberies, according to two complaints filed yesterday in federal court in Denver. Cinemark, though expecting large crowds, failed to provide security personnel for the midnight premier of the movie, according to the complaints.
“The gunman made one or more trips from his car through the open exterior door” of the movie auditorium, “bringing his arsenal and ammunition through that open door,” according to one of the complaints. “Throughout that time, no employee or security personnel contacted him, deterred him, monitored him or stopped him from that re-entry.”
James Meredith, a spokesman for Plano, Texas-based Cinemark, didn’t immediately return a call after regular business hours yesterday seeking comment on the lawsuits.
Prosecutors yesterday dropped a bid to view the contents of a notebook Holmes sent to a psychiatrist just before the shooting. Holmes’s lawyers had argued that the notebook was subject to patient-doctor privilege and couldn’t be viewed by prosecutors.
Deputy Arapahoe County District Attorney Rich Orman told Judge William Sylvester yesterday that any decision on the question would probably trigger an appeal that would delay the case “for a long time.”
Also yesterday, Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper said Ken Feinberg will serve as special master to oversee distribution of money donated to the Aurora Victim Relief Fund.
Feinberg served the same role in administering the federal Sept. 11 Victim Compensation Fund of 2001, in which he contacted people who qualified to file a claim, evaluated applications, and determined appropriate compensation and disseminated awards, according to the statement.
The cases are Nowlan v. Cinemark, USA, Inc., 12-cv-02517, and Traynom v. Cinemark, USA, Inc. 12-cv-02514, U.S. District Court, District of Colorado (Denver).
The criminal case is People v. Holmes, 12-cr-01522, 18th Judicial District Court, Colorado (Centennial).