AURORA | A consolidated group of lawsuits brought against the owner of the Aurora theater where 12 people were killed and 70 others wounded in one of the nation’s worst mass shootings in 2012 were dismissed Friday, June 24, in U.S. District Court.
Judge R. Brooke Jackson issued the order to dismiss the lawsuits — brought by a number of victims of the 2012 theater shooting — “with prejudice,” according to federal court documents.
In the written order dismissing the lawsuits, Judge Jackson wrote that even if failing to provide safety measures such as an alarm on the theater’s exit door or security officers for the premiere led to some of the injuries or deaths, “(James) Holmes’ premeditated and intentional actions were the predominant cause of plaintiffs’ losses,” and that any inaction by the theater owner were not “a substantial factor in causing this tragedy.”
Jackson cited a lawsuit brought by Sandy Phillips, the mother of theater shooting victim Jessica Ghawi, against the gun shops that Holmes used to purchase ammo for the massacre, noting that the court in that case came to a similar conclusion that meticulous planning on Holmes’ part was the “substantial factor” leading to the shooting.
Among the plaintiffs were:
- Denise Traynom and Brandon Axelrod, who lived in Denver and survived the shooting. Axelrod injured ligaments in his knee while fleeing the shooting. Traynom was shot in her back and rear during the shooting.
- Ashley Moser, who was paralyzed and suffered a miscarriage after being shot in her chest. She also lost her 6-year-old daughter, Veronica Moser-Sullivan, who was killed in the shooting.
- Jamison Toews, the boyfriend of Ashley Moser and the father of the unborn child that was lost to miscarriage after her shooting. Toews was shot in the head during the shooting.
- Alleen “Allie” Young, who was shot in the chest and was carried out of the theater by her best friend after playing dead as the shooter walked past them.
- Chantel L. Blunk, the widow of slain victim Jonathan Blunk.
- Joshua R. Nowlan, who was shot in the leg and arm.
- Dion Rosborough, who went to the movie that night by himself and was shot from about five feet away.
- Marcus Weaver, who was sitting in the fifth row during the midnight screening of “The Dark Knight Rises” at the Century Theater. Weaver was shot in the arm as he was carrying his friend, Rebecca Wingo, out off the auditorium.
Each of the plaintiffs had claimed that the theater did not do enough to ensure their safety on the night of the shooting.
Other plaintiffs whose cases were dismissed include Tony Briscoe, Jon Boik, Evan Faris, Richele Hill, David Williams, Munirih Gravelly, Nick Gallup, Stefan Moton, Maximus Blunk and Hailey Blunk.
Jurors in a similar lawsuit against Cinemark regarding the 2012 theater shooting found the theater owner not liable for the rampage, rejecting victims’ arguments that, in an age of mass shootings, the theater should have foreseen the possibility of violence at a crowded midnight premiere of a Batman film.
Several survivors and families of the dead sued the nation’s third-largest theater chain, saying the Aurora theater should have had armed guards at the summer blockbuster. There also was no silent alarm that would have sounded when James Holmes slipped into an auditorium and started shooting.
The civil case was watched closely by theater security consultants, some of whom predicted that a verdict against Cinemark would mean sweeping and costly changes to the way theaters protect customers.
In that earlier lawsuit, Cinemark argued nothing could have stopped the armor-clad shooter. After months of meticulous planning, he threw gas canisters into the crowd of more than 400 and then opened fire with a shotgun, assault rifle and semi-automatic pistol.
“Cinemark endured a tremendous tragedy as did the victims of the case and the entire Aurora community … at the hands of a madman, James Holmes,” attorney Kevin Taylor told reporters after the jury’s decision. “(The shooter) was clearly unpredictable, unforeseeable, unpreventable and unstoppable. … The only thing that matches the unforeseeability of this case is the tragedy of it.”
Victims also are suing Holmes’ University of Colorado psychiatrist, arguing she and other university officials should have done more to stop the attack after Holmes confessed his homicidal thoughts.
— The Associated Press contributed to this report.