Cinemark Sued Survivors Of The Aurora Shooting For $700k. The Theater Won. | Gradient
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Cinemark sued survivors of the Aurora shooting for $700k. The theater won.

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In 2012, James Holmes entered a Cinemark movie theater, killing 12 and injuring 70 more. Those theatergoers sued Cinemark, arguing that the shooting was encouraged by insufficient security. Cinemark then sued the victims, asking them to compensate the theater for the $700,000 spent in legal fees. They won. Marcus Weaver, a survivor of the shooting, told the Los Angeles Times that their treatment in court was like a “slap in the face.”

At 4 p.m., Cinemark’s attorneys presented a settlement offer. Before it was read, a federal magistrate cornered Weaver to speak with him one-on-one. He asked Weaver to remember the slow pace of change in the civil rights movement, and told him that changing theater safety would also be slow.

“It was the biggest smack in the face,” Weaver said. “He was basically telling us, you’re right, they’re basically at fault, but there’s justice and then there’s true justice.”

It wasn’t a good deal, Weaver thought: $150,000 split among the 41 plaintiffs.

Weaver leaned in close to his attorney.

“That’s it?” he asked.  

“That’s it,” Phil Hardman replied.

But the settlement would achieve the one thing Weaver had been pushing for, an acknowledgment that the theater chain would take new measures to protect patrons. Still, something was worrying him.

“It was the 12th hour, we were all feeling the same way. We all knew they were liable. We knew they were at fault,” Weaver said. “[The settlement] was a slap in the face. But I said, ‘Let’s go for it because it’s better than nothing.’”

The choice for the survivors was clear, Weaver said.

“Either seek justice and go into debt, or take that pitiful offering of money and the improved public safety,” Weaver said.

Though Holmes was sentenced to life in prison, the cost of his behavior continues to be held by those that suffered the most.

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