Cinemark should not be sued in civil court for the shooting rampage and deaths last July in its Aurora, Colorado theater at a midnight screening of The Dark Knight Rises, says a federal magistrate judge. Cinemark moved in late October to have the civil claims dismissed. At the time, the exhibitor argued that each suit “fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted as a matter of law,” arguing that what happened was not its fault. In a dense 22-page recommendation (read it here) filed Thursday, Judge Michael Hegarty said the consolidated negligence and wrongful death civil lawsuits by victims and their families should be dismissed. Instead he suggests that because the plaintiffs’ “state plausible claims,” they may have a further case under the Colorado Premises Liability Act. “Absent allegations that Plaintiffs’ injuries occurred other than on Defendant’s property and did not arise out of a condition of the property or by activities conducted on the property, and in accordance with prevailing case law, the Court concludes that Plaintiffs’ claims for negligence and wrongful death are abrogated by the CPLA and must be dismissed,” says the recommendation to the district court. All of the lawsuits cite the lack of proper security at the July 20 opening day midnight screening of The Dark Knight Rises at the Aurora Century 16 multiplex as being responsible for the shooting by alleged gunman James Holmes. The rampage left 12 dead and 58 wounded. The CPLA covers injuries that occur to an individual on another person’s property but it does not allow wrongful death claims. U.S. District Judge R. Brook Jackson melded the lawsuits together in mid-November of last year. The judge also set a trial date of May 5, 2014 for the case. Now that Judge Hegarty has made his recommendations to Judge Jackson, both sides in the case have two weeks to make arguments to him on the matter. After that, the judge can agree with the recommendations and dismiss the claims or dismiss the recommendation and move forward with the case. The latter would inevitably see an appeal action by Cinemark.
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