Cinemark Asks for $700,000 in Legal Fees from Aurora Shooting Victims

By  | 

After an unsuccessful civil lawsuit against the Cinemark theater where the 2012 Aurora, Colorado shooting took place, the victims and their families may be forced to pay the opposing side’s legal fees. Those fees could cost nearly $700,000, according to recent court filings identified by the Denver Post.

In the wake of the Aurora shooting, which left 12 dead and more than 70 injured, many of the survivors and the families of those who were killed filed a civil lawsuit in a Colorado state court against the movie theater, arguing that its security provisions failed to protect the victims. The shooter, James Holmes, was sentenced to 12 consecutive life sentences for the crime.

The victims’ lawyers argued that the theater failed in its responsibility to secure the building, citing a lack of video surveillance, security guards, and silent alarms on exit doors–which is what the shooter used to enter the theater. They also noted that prior to the shooting the Department of Homeland Security warned movie theaters that they might be the target of terrorist attacks.

In response, Cinemark argued that the responsibility for the shooting ultimately lies with the shooter. It claimed that there was no way for the theater to foresee such a meticulously planned attack. Ultimately, a six-person jury sided with the company.

A similar lawsuit in a federal court decided in Cinemark’s favor as well and concluded that the company was entitled to recoup some legal costs, though Cinemark has not yet requested an amount in that case. Many of the victims settled with the company prior to the ruling, telling the Denver Post that potentially being on the hook for legal costs contributed to the decision.

Colorado law allows parties that succeed in civil lawsuits to recover legal costs, leading Cinemark to file a motion to bill the victims for $699,187.13 in expenses. But filing the motion does not mean that the company will get all of what it requested, a decision that requires a judge’s approval. In response to the company’s request, Marc Bern, one of the plaintiffs’ lawyer told the Wall Street Journal that the amount “is an outrageous attempt to keep the plaintiffs from appealing.” And while the company is entitled to recoup the costs, seeking money from the victims of a mass shooting may not be a great decision from  a public relations standpoint.

An editorial from the Denver Post claims that this outcome may actually be preferable because it could put an end to what it considers to be a misguided lawsuit. The Post’s editorial board argues that, ideally, the victims will drop the case and not appeal while Cinemark will retract its demand for the $700,000 in legal fees.  

Kevin Rizzo
Kevin Rizzo is the Crime in America Editor at Law Street Media. An Ohio Native, the George Washington University graduate is a founding member of the company. Contact Kevin at



Send this to friend