During a July 20, 2012 screening of The Dark Knight Rises, the Cinemark Century 16 in Aurora, Colorado suffered a mass shooting that would leave audiences insecure about going to the movies, and theater chains upping security standards to prevent such an incident from happening again. The families of the victims took Cinemark to court, and recently the theater corporation was cleared of all wrongdoing in the incident. This is normally where you would think the story would end, but in the case of Cinemark, they're seeking to start a new chapter of legal proceedings, all thanks to a Colorado law that allows a successfully exonerated defendant to sue for legal costs.
Unfortunately, as the item from Deadline has confirmed, the legal fees on Cinemark's side of the table have totaled to about $700,000. With the class action suit including a total of 30 parties, this would presumably put each plaintiff on the hook for about $23,333 in legal fees that the theater chain is looking to pursue. Of course, as the story goes on to detail, this has been hypothesized as a gambit being played by Cinemark, which could be dropped if the plaintiffs agree to no further legal action. There's a lot to unpack here, so let's go step by step.
First, let's go into the fact that the Colorado justice system allows for just this scenario to occur. Just as it's the right of the victim's families to sue Cinemark for damages suffered after the infamous shooting during The Dark Knight Rises, Cinemark is legally allowed by Colorado law to sue for legal fees incurred during a successful legal defense in a Civil trial. So Cinemark is well within their rights as a defendant to chase the money they feel they've lost, and from an "on paper" viewpoint, they could be seen as in the right to do so.
However, there's a strong sentiment in the public court of opinion that Cinemark's legal actions towards the plaintiffs in Aurora are, in the nicest terms possible, reprehensible. A community of victims is trying to seek damages for an event that left them either wounded, or without loved ones as a result. Their legal action isn't just a cash grab, rather a pursuit of judgement, and possibly a monetary settlement. While Cinemark is, again, legally allowed to seek damages from the 30 plaintiffs in their recent lawsuit, it doesn't necessarily mean they need to.
Without tipping too far into either side's camp, the Aurora shooting was a disaster that left the public shaken, and a select group of people reeling from a sense of personal loss. At this point, it would be nice to see both sides stand down, and to let the matter lie without any further legal heartache. Here's hoping that in the end, whatever and whenever that may be, both sides can make peace and move on.
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CinemaBlend's James Bond (expert). Also versed in Large Scale Aggressors, time travel, and Guillermo del Toro. He fights for The User.