After a settlement deal fell apart, four survivors of the 2012 Aurora movie theater shooting are left having to pay the Cinemark chain at least $700,000.
The failed settlement and financial repercussions were laid out Tuesday by the Los Angeles Times, which pieced together the story through interviews with people involved in the talks between the owners of the Century Aurora 16 mutliplex and 41 plaintiffs, including survivors and relatives of victims. A federal judge overseeing their case had advised the plaintiffs that they should settle with Cinemark within 24 hours. Another group of survivors had filed a state lawsuit, and a jury decided Cinemark could not have foreseen the shooting, which left 12 dead and more than 70 injured during a showing of The Dark Knight Rises. Because of that ruling, the judge said, he would most likely also find the chain not liable for the shooting.
As plaintiff Marcus Weaver told the Times, the group had to decide if they were willing to accept $150,000 split among 41 plaintiffs. He said he didn't think it was enough, but was satisfied that the company was going to have to take new measures to protect guests. The plaintiffs also knew if they rejected the deal and the case moved forward, under Colorado law they would be responsible for Cinemark's court fees. As Cinemark drafted a press release announcing the settlement, one unidentified plaintiff rejected the deal. Weaver and 36 other plaintiffs quickly removed themselves from the suit, but four stayed on, and the judge ruled the next day in favor of Cinemark. The state court case cost $699,000, and the federal case is expected to be more.
Several plaintiffs and attorneys told the Times they were upset with how the state case was handled, and some federal plaintiffs were so suspicious of the weak case that rumors started to spread that Cinemark was actually behind it and wanted it to fail. Weaver, who married and had a child after the shooting, told the Times he is trying to move on with his life, but he can't shake what happened with the federal case. "Theaters aren't any safer," he said. "It's almost like everything was for naught."