Cinemark survivors are being asked to pay $700,000 in legal fees to the movie theater chain – talk about adding insult to injury. Many are calling this story mind-boggling.
It is hard to forget the 2012 Aurora shooting, which occurred at the Century 16 movie theater in Colorado. More than 400 people had gathered at the movie theater owned by Cinemark for a midnight screening of The Dark Knight Rises when crazed man James Eagan Holmes perpetrated the second deadliest shooting in the United States.
He first set off tear gas grenades and minutes later, he used multiple firearms to murder twelve moviegoers and injure seventy others. The consequences of the mass shooting were a spike in gun sales in Colorado and lengthy political debates about gun control that went nowhere in Congress.
President Barack Obama was forced to sign some executive orders with the following goals in mind:
“1. Make our communities safer from gun violence.
This part of the order won’t change the laws, but it will urge law enforcement to enforce the existing laws, and give federal agencies more resources to do so.
2. Keep guns out of the wrong hands through background checks.
The Attorney General convened a call with U.S. Attorneys around the country to direct federal prosecutors to continue to focus on smart and effective enforcement of our gun laws.
3. Increase mental health treatment and reporting to the background check system.
The Administration is proposing a new $500 million investment to increase access to mental health care.”
This week, some of the survivors and the relatives of those killed in the Cinemark massacre are making headlines through no fault of their own. The families of those killed and wounded are being dragged in court by the company.
The group of people had sued Cinemark claiming that it did not have proper security in and around the theater to protect its customers. In May, an Arapahoe County civil jury ruled Cinemark was not liable for the shooting.
Despite winning the case, Cinemark wanted to negotiate with the survivors a possible settlement – but there were two catches. First catch – on June 23, lawyers for Cinemark told the group they had 24 hours to accept their offer. Here is a breakdown of the deal:
“Cinemark’s offer was $150,000 to be split among 41 plaintiffs, with the three most critically injured to each receive $30,000. The remaining 38 would equally split the remaining $60,000.”
Second catch: The plaintiffs were also told that if they did not take the deal Cinemark would move forward under Colorado law and seek the hefty court fees that it had accumulated. Lawyers for Cinemark said the bill was $699,187.13. Marcus Weaver, who survived the shooting, said:
“Either seek justice and go into debt or take that pitiful offering of money and the improved public safety.”
However, one plaintiff, who has been paralyzed and lost her unborn baby in the shooting, turned down the deal and 37 others followed. Four plaintiffs – Ashley Moser, Stefan Moton, Joshua Nowlan, and Nickelas Gallup – remained in the lawsuit. Moreover, a judge has ruled that they have to pay nearly $700,000 in legal fees to the movie theater chain. Weaver’s attorney, Phil Hardman, stated:
“A blind guy in a dark alley could have seen [the state verdict] coming.”
The four plaintiffs are appealing the ruling.