By Keith Coffman
DENVER (Reuters) – A federal judge on Friday dismissed lawsuits filed against the owners of a Colorado theater where 12 people were killed and 70 wounded during a screening of a Batman film in 2012, court records showed.
Relatives of some of the dead victims and wounded survivors claimed in the lawsuit that theater chain Cinemark USA was negligent by not providing adequate security for its patrons.
U.S. District Court Judge R. Brooke Jackson granted a motion filed by Cinemark to dismiss the case, who claimed in court that its employees could never have foreseen the actions of a “madman.”
A state jury convicted gunman James Holmes, 27, of multiple counts of murder and attempted murder last year, and a judge sentenced him to consecutive life terms in prison after jurors spared him from the death penalty prosecutors sought.
Jackson said in Friday’s ruling the victims could not prove the theater was the “proximate cause” of what he deemed a horrible tragedy.
The suit alleged Cinemark’s lax security allowed Holmes to leave the theater during the movie, prop open an exit door, arm himself and re-enter the auditorium to carry out the mass shooting.
“Even if such omissions contributed in some way to the injuries and deaths, the Court finds that Holmes’ premeditated and intentional actions were the predominant cause of plaintiffs’ losses,” Jackson wrote.
The decision comes a month after a jury in state court ruled in a similar lawsuit that Cinemark was not liable for the massacre. Friday’s ruling effectively ends litigation against the chain over the shooting rampage.
Holmes is serving his life sentences at an undisclosed prison, after state corrections officials moved him for safety reasons when he was assaulted by another inmate last year.
(Reporting by Keith Coffman; Editing by Curtis Skinner and Jacqueline Wong)