“Batman” Shooting Could Have Been Predicted, Judge Rules

Readers inssakbanh
— Welcome to Worst First Thinking: This Time It’s Law. Writes the Denver Post (boldface mine):

The owner of the Aurora movie theater that was the site of a deadly 2012 attack could have reasonably enough foreseen the danger of such an attack to be held liable for it, a federal judge ruled Friday.

Noting “the grim history of mass shootings and mass killings that have occurred in more recent times,” U.S. District Court Judge R. Brooke Jackson ruled that Cinemark — owner of the Century Aurora 16 theater — could have predicted that movie patrons might be targeted for an attack. Jackson’s ruling allows 20 lawsuits filed by survivors of the attack or relatives of those killed to proceed toward trial.

“Although theaters had theretofore been spared a mass shooting incident, the patrons of a movie theater are, perhaps even more than students in a school or shoppers in a mall, ‘sitting ducks,’ ” Jackson wrote.

Wait a second — doesn’t that mean that any group of people anywhere are “sitting ducks”? Does that mean every public place must always be on guard — literally, with real guards,guns, metal detectors and snipers — just in case a mass shooter bursts in?

Here is what lawyer Scott H. Greenfield writes on his fantastic blog Simple Justice about this ruling:

So because it’s never happened before, the likelihood that it was going to happen was sufficiently predictable that the theater should have been prepared for it?  Extrapolate that reasoning to all the places where no one has ever been slaughtered by a madman and consider the ramifications.

…the duty of businesses [will be] to be prepared for the act of a one-in-a-million crazy.  The biggest growth job in America will be armed guard. Every theater will require its own SWAT team….  Office buildings, parks, skating rinks, pretty much anywhere more than three people gather, could be the next target of a madman. They will all need security, armed with the weapons needed to take out any crazy.

Judge Jackson seems unable to accept the idea that we can only make society reasonably safe. Trying to predict and prepare for one-in-a-billion disasters is impossible every which way: financially, socially, physically. Not to mention the unintended consequences of a society chock-a-block with armed guards.

Perhaps it’s hard for the judge to come to grips with the sad truth that there is no such thing as absolute security. But there isn’t. And he should.  – L

Prepare to meet your doom...every single second, every single place.

Prepare to meet your doom…every single second, every single place.

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53 Responses to “Batman” Shooting Could Have Been Predicted, Judge Rules

  1. Warren August 21, 2014 at 12:27 pm #

    Dear Moviegoers,

    We regretably need to inform you of addmission rate increases. These increases are needed to cover the cost of our new armed security force, offset the purchase of metal detectors, cameras and alarms, and the increase in liability insurance.
    The new ticket prices are as follows.

    Senior………..sorry you cannot afford it.
    Adults………..financing available OAC.
    Students and Kids….sorry you are no longer permitted on site, as your death raises the cost of settlement exponentially.

    Tonights movies
    Screen 3……..DANGER AROOUND THE CORNER…a fabulous documentary outlining how all americans are in constant danger of…..well everything.

  2. no rest for the weary August 21, 2014 at 12:44 pm #

    My father is a very wise man. When I was a child and came to him with my wild “what if” fears, and ask him if it could possibly happen, he would say something like, “Well, it is POSSIBLE, but it’s not PROBABLE.”

    If you can dream up a scenario and all the laws of physics are obeyed, well, sure, it’s POSSIBLE. But is it PROBABLE?

    “Foreseeable,” to me, applies to situations where there is a significant probability of something happening.

    Madmen in movie theatres need not apply.

  3. MichaelF August 21, 2014 at 12:50 pm #

    Extrapolate this to “once-in-a-generation” super storms. So that cities like New York SHOULD have known a weather event like Sandy (sp?) was coming and should have prepared for it or be liable to law suits. Texas may need to be more careful for preparing for the “once in a lifetime” snow storm that may come and cripple the state with 2 inches of snowfall…or did that already happen?!?

    I hope that these lawsuits get thrown out in court, it’s sad that these days (and this is a perfect example) you need to worry more about the rare litigation and its costs than sometimes providing more for your customers.

    I’d blame the lawyers, but I know some good ones and they aren’t the ones who perpetuate a system like this.

  4. Jessica August 21, 2014 at 1:04 pm #

    Forgive me if I’m wrong, but I was under the impression that if something happens as an unforeseen result of some other event, no one could be held liable. Like, we can’t sue the butterfly that flapped its wings in China for causing a hurricane on the east coast. Because of its unpredictability, you can’t protect against it. The only way this kind of liability makes sense is if shootings at movie theater were commonplace, or if the theater received a threat and took no precautions against it. I don’t see how protecting against a statistical impossibility makes anyone safer. It simply makes the desire to prosecute or point the finger that much stronger because, of course, we can prevent all situations that result in injury or death. On a side note, can I sue the manufacturer of my body? I’ve had it for thirty years, but I still get hurt and sick. Maybe I should sue my mother, because by bringing me into this world she guaranteed I would know pain and suffering. Or maybe the media, because I’m constantly being subjected to emotionally traumatizing news over and over every day. Who’s going to pay me for all of my pain? And when I do die – hopefully of natural causes – who will my family get to sue? The nursing home? The manufacturer of the bed where I died in my sleep? In other words:
    Life is pain. Anyone who tells you different is selling something.

  5. Scott Lazarowitz August 21, 2014 at 1:09 pm #

    Judges these days are mainly political appointees, family members of public officials who appoint them, or politicians being elected to that judicial office. Therefore, their decisions do not really involve the kind of thinking and reasoning our society used to see when someone of knowledge and character would hold such positions. (See Hans-Hermann Hoppe: “Natural Elites, Intellectuals, and the State”)

    Some other recent examples of buffoons deciding the fates of millions: Chief Justice Roberts’s opinion upholding ObamaCare, Judge Raymond Lohier’s ruling reinstating Obama’s NDAA indefinite detention of Americans, and Supreme Court and lower courts rulings after rulings continuously wiping away our rights and liberty.

  6. Andrea August 21, 2014 at 1:33 pm #

    Meh, I can see it. If it is true that the shooter specifically picked this theater instead of two that were closer to his home because this one posted signs that it was a gun free zone and the other ones allowed concealed carry, then the owner of the theater is partially to blame. If you disarm the citizens on your property, you become responsible for protecting them.

  7. Nicole August 21, 2014 at 1:56 pm #

    By reasonable extension of this line of thinking, movie patrons themselves should also have been able to predict that a shooting like this could occur, and therefore knew the risks when they chose to leave their fortified bunkers and brave a public movie theater and allow themselves to become sitting ducks, yes? Therefore, there is no basis to sue.

  8. ad August 21, 2014 at 3:14 pm #

    It’s bad enough that the average person is apparently determined to think irrationaly about risk.

    It’s a lot worse when you realise the authorities are too.

    I wonder if the police in Ferguson are like this: “It’s a black man! He might be armed! Gun him down now! You can’t be too careful!”

  9. Warren August 21, 2014 at 3:31 pm #

    What drugs are you taking, and where do I get them?

    By your logic, then, if I get shot here in Canada, a country known to world that does not allow firearms to be carried in public, by your logic my family can sue the Gov’t because they made the country unsafe knowingly?

  10. anonymous mom August 21, 2014 at 3:41 pm #

    I’m not sure if the lawsuits will have any merit, but reading more articles about this, it doesn’t seem totally absurd. According to one story I read, the movie theater had a history of assaults, robberies, and at least one previous shooting, and another noted that there had been over 100 call to the police from the theater in the four months prior to the shooting.

    Yes, it’s ridiculous to say they should have been anticipating a spree shooting and had precautions in place for that. But, I’m not sure it’s entirely unreasonable to think that they should have been aware of the violence problem at their establishment and had some basic precautions in place, like a security guard. I think it would be hard to prove the theater is liable for the shooting, but if there is evidence they were ignoring the safety of patrons, it doesn’t seem that outlandish for the lawsuits to be allowed to go to trial.

  11. anonymous mom August 21, 2014 at 3:45 pm #

    That he chose the theater because if was a gun-free establishment was a wild theory on the part of the right-wing media, and there is no corroborating evidence for it.

    What’s at issue in this case is lack of security guards, and whether that played a role. I don’t know if that has merit as a lawsuit but it does seem like this was a theater where violence was not uncommon.

  12. Omer Golan-Joel August 21, 2014 at 4:07 pm #

    So instead of punishing (or, better yet, rehabilitating) criminals, the fascist government punishes everyone. The same goes here in Israel with “security” – people got used to have their privacy invaded and their bags (and sometimes body) searched routinely by private guards everywhere “to combat terrorism”.

    Security and Safety are the twin excuses used by the State to take away your freedom and put in place more coercion.

  13. Jill August 21, 2014 at 4:41 pm #

    Movie Theaters need to start selling guns at the concession stand, along with the popcorn and the Raisinets. Before the coming attractions, there should be an announcement that gunplay may erupt at any time, and that patrons should be prepared to return fire. Yep, that’ll do it.

  14. Warren August 21, 2014 at 4:51 pm #

    bullet proof porcorn buckets to put on your head will be required by all theatres.

  15. Brett P August 21, 2014 at 7:19 pm #


    Yeah… that’s not really a good comparison…
    I started from the same standpoint as Andrea, and eagerly looked for someone to express that point when checking the comments for this article – I was glad to see someone express it.

    I got to your response and for several moments I thought “hmmm… I guess I wouldn’t expect the country of Canada to be held liable for a lone gunman killing a person, even 30 people… that wouldn’t be fair, even if he was a foreigner that got through customs hours or even days before going on a rampage” … but then I thought how absurd that comparison is!

    If you were talking about a 12 person killing spree (58 others wounded) somewhere in Canada, and comparing it to an incident in a 16 theater complex (perhaps 20 rooms? at most 1,000 people?), then you’d have to compare it to someone walking into a theater with at most 3 or 4 needles and attacking one other person with those needles. Certainly unacceptable. I would expect the theater personnel to notify the police and medical personnel, and perhaps attempt to subdue the attacker. That would be basically the end of their responsibility and they should not be legally culpable.

    To compare to the Aurora Colorado incident, you’d have to make several other adjustments to the comparison, mostly dealing with scale police interviewed around 200 people – I assume there were less than 1,000 people in the theater, so lets just use that as a high ballpark to compare to the 35 million people of Canada. 12 people (1.2% of the population) would scale to 420,000 casualties in Canada – if there were only 500 people in the multiplex, then the 12 would scale to 840,000 casualties.

    Not even going into what mechanism or methods a hypothetical person used beyond that it qualified as a firearm, if someone (or more likely a small army) went around Canada and killed 420,000 people (and injured more than 2,000,000), and only once this army stopped killing people on its own and got on its boat and waited out by its car just off shore did the Canadian army (I hope that’s not a contradiction in terms) or possibly a combined UN force came to arrest them and figure out what happened, then YES, I WOULD BLAME THE CANADA GOVERNMENT if I were family of of one of those 420,000. Yes.

  16. Brett P August 21, 2014 at 8:46 pm #

    As for a response to the article above… “Wait a second — doesn’t that mean that any group of people anywhere are “sitting ducks”? Does that mean every public place must always be on guard — literally, with real guards,guns, metal detectors and snipers — just in case a mass shooter bursts in?”

    no… not quite… however, when a place says essentially

    By paying us money and partaking in our services, you are not allowed to be prepared to defend yourself with comparable force in the rare case that a gunman decides to go on a rampage here. This applies even if you have had background investigations, taken tests and/or paid fees to the government of this state – where we chose to open a business – and thus been issued a permit indicating you are allowed to arm yourself, but not unnecessarily alarm those around you by openly brandishing firearms. Furthermore, this policy will only restrict the rights of those who wish to remain in compliance with national, state, local and business mandates. Shop here at your own risk; despite this strict policy, we will not take reasonable precautions to actually restrict those wishing to shoot lots of people on our premises, nor will we personally take any direct action against anyone who should choose to do so. We will call the cops, who should be here within probably ten or fifteen minutes, though.

    …then they are essentially forcing those who do choose to follow the rules but still enter the building to be… well… yes: Sitting ducks.

    I have no idea how much of any of this went into the consideration of the judges ruling, but it only opens the business to litigation, it does not say they have to pay anything… yet…

  17. Emily August 21, 2014 at 9:53 pm #

    @Warren–Remember Royal Canadian Air Farce? It’s too bad that it went off the air, because I think you could have made a fortune as a writer for that show. Seriously, though, I think what will really happen is, people will stop going to movie theatres, and just hunker down at home with Netflix, and chip away at community that much more. True, watching a movie in a theatre isn’t a very “communal” activity, but sometimes it’s nice to hear everyone in the theatre laughing, gasping, and reacting to the same things on the same screen at the same time. Some theatres also have games there, like air hockey, pinball, DDR, and things of that nature, that can be played together before and after the movie. But, if ticket prices had to increase again, to pay for security, to prevent the “inevitable” movie theatre shooting, I don’t see the theatres staying open much longer. Movie ticket prices have already crept up, and up, and up, to the point that it often costs more to see a movie in a theatre ONCE, than to simply buy the DVD, which can be watched over and over again, and paused for drink/snack/bathroom breaks. For example, I bought Mean Girls a few weeks ago at Target for about five dollars, but when it came out in the theatres, ten years ago, it would have cost at least twice that to see it. So, between rising movie ticket prices, falling DVD prices, and the advent of Netflix, which is cheaper than the theatre, because Netflix doesn’t provide the physical location, or the movie-watching apparatus (instead, you watch it in your own home, on your own television), I think this could be the end of an era. Yet another thing that used to be an outing, has now become a “sit at home and stare at a screen” affair.

  18. SteveS August 21, 2014 at 10:05 pm #

    Before people blame lawyers, I would point out that these cases will have a hard time prevailing. A business owner is not liable for the unforeseen, criminal acts of a third party. I disagree with what the judge says, but they can rule on matters of law, not matters of fact. It was probably the right thing to do to let these cases go forth, though I think they will ultimately lose. There have been numerous other suits that are similar and they have not won.

    As someone who is about as pro-gun as you can get (I think the majority of gun laws are unconstitutional), I am not sure I want to create liability for a private property owner that doesn’t allow people to carry on their property. First of all, I think any case would be hard to win because you would have to prove that your outcome would have been different had you been armed. If I were the attorney for the business, I would certainly ask what kind of training you had and how many gun fights you had previously been in. Secondly, I think a better solution is to just not patronize businesses that don’t respect your rights.

  19. Warren August 21, 2014 at 10:25 pm #


    This theatre apparently had violence issues and alledgly a shooting incident. So I am assuming going gun free was in response to that incident.

    So by your logic, a business owner in the states has either got to have mercenaries watching the door, or not bother going into business.

    Your math though lengthy does not change the fact that your logic is flawed.

  20. SteveS August 21, 2014 at 10:49 pm #

    Warren, I don’t think there is an easy solution. Simply going “gun free” doesn’t work unless you have a metal detector and screen everyone that comes in. A nutcase that had decided to go on a killing spree isn’t going to show up at a theater and see a “no guns” sign and turn around. Those policies are useless. If you look at almost every mass killing in this country, they have taken place at a location that specifically excluded any kind of lawful carry.

    I don’t know what the answer is, but having a “no guns” sign doesn’t seem to help.

    In terms of lobbying funds and campaign donations, “business” outspends everyone else. Like I said earlier, these kinds of suits lose most of the time. If this theater (more specifically, their insurance company), by some stroke of luck, wins, then I would expect various legislatures to step in and pass laws that shield businesses from these kinds of suits.

  21. J.T. Wenting August 22, 2014 at 12:58 am #

    “Forgive me if I’m wrong, but I was under the impression that if something happens as an unforeseen result of some other event, no one could be held liable. ”

    yes, but the judge ruled here that the owners of the movie theater could have known there would be an unforeseen event and therefore should have taken steps to prevent said unforeseen event.
    IOW they should have strip searched all visitors, placed armed cordons around the place to keep out intruders, replaced the walls with several meters of steel reinforced concrete to stop people crashing through them or shooting at them with RPGs, placed AA guns and SAM sites on the roof to shoot down aircraft and UAVs threatening to crash into the building, made the building earthquake proof, self sustaining in case of flood, firestorms, hurricanes, or a supervolcano going off next door, etc. etc.

    This of course leaves Cheyenne Mountain (the NORAD command center dug deep under a mountain in the heartland, designed to withstand a 1MT nuclear bomb going off on top of it and keep its occupants alive through the nuclear winter that follows) as the only place in America that according to this ruling might be safe from lawsuits involving liability claims.
    And even that one wasn’t designed to withstand what the designers could have predicted as being the biggest bomb ever deployed by the Soviets, so they might be sued as well for negligence in that…

    Unless this gets overturned, it turns any event or venue where anyone ever ends up with any injury or damage at all into an instant heaven for the ambulance chasers, guaranteed win.

  22. J.T. Wenting August 22, 2014 at 1:02 am #

    “So instead of punishing (or, better yet, rehabilitating) criminals, the fascist government punishes everyone. The same goes here in Israel with “security” – people got used to have their privacy invaded and their bags (and sometimes body) searched routinely by private guards everywhere “to combat terrorism”.”

    at least you punish the criminals as well. In America and Europe the criminals are not getting punished, they get supplied for because they’re overwhelmingly “minorities” and therefore anything they do is “cultural” or “backlash against discrimination”, or even better “punishing them is discrimination because it amounts to profiling”.

  23. Andy August 22, 2014 at 4:25 am #

    @J.T. Wenting What are you talking about? America has highest incarceration rates in the world. It has also the longest sentences for even small infractions from whole western world.

    Plus, there are several studies that shows that minorities are more likely to be locked and for longer then whites. No one except academics and some journalists excuses them. Certainly not the justice system.

  24. Mike in Virginia August 22, 2014 at 8:27 am #

    The movie theater industry is already in trouble, and the more they raise ticket prices, the less people want to go to theaters (preferring instead to stay at home and watch the movie on-demand). If the theaters have to raise prices to pay for extra security in order to avoid liability, I just can’t see the industry surviving.

    But to your point, anywhere that a large number of people will be in a confined space creates some amount of risk. Meeting fire code has always been the biggest concern, but now this is reaching a similar level. Private, armed security guards will need to be posted everywhere. I guess it will help our unemployment problems. . .

  25. Dhewco August 22, 2014 at 8:47 am #

    Unless we’re talking about military level private security, I doubt rent-a-cops are the answer. I remember that episode of World’s Dumbest (Employees edition, I think) the security guard on duty ran and placed himself in the dumpster while calling police. He wouldn’t go back no matter what and was so scared he couldn’t remember the address of the store he worked.

    The kind of security a movie theater would hire would probably be useless in an Aurora type situation. They’d be cheap, barely armed and probably with little training. To hire anyone else would put the theater out of business. Off duty military and police-trained security costs a good deal of money. You want to pay 10 dollars for a small bucket of popcorn?

    5 bucks for that box of raisonets?

  26. Dan August 22, 2014 at 9:10 am #

    SteveS: “Warren, I don’t think there is an easy solution. Simply going “gun free” doesn’t work unless you have a metal detector and screen everyone that comes in.”

    Actually, it works quite well in Canada.

  27. Brett P August 22, 2014 at 9:49 am #

    @Warren (primarily), but with nods to @J.T. Wenting/@Dhewco

    In this related Denver Post article there was no mention of a prior shooting at that location, merely “previous incidents”. This article (Also from the Denver Post) does mention an alleged “history of assaults, robberies and at least one gang-related shooting”. However, the no-gun policy is company-wide – and is applied to all Cinemark theaters where ever it is legally enforceable. So your assumption, while arguably reasonable if you don’t actually look into the articles describing facts behind the situation, is nonetheless invalid.

    The judge’s ruling is in response to Cinemark’s legal filing which claims “that they should not be expected to have foreseen the attack” in pursuit of summary judgment (big hammer) against all plaintiffs.

    In response to both @Warren and @J.T.Wenting, your suggestions of unreasonable countermeasures are indeed absurd! Especially those of J.T.! No business could be reasonably expected to have enhanced walls, strip searches, SAM sites or significant resistance to the surprise neighborhood super-volcano (J.T.’s suggestions). Mercenaries are also excessive (Warrens’s Suggestion).

    Legal allegations that are now allowed to proceed to court: That the theater
    had no security guards on duty the night of the shootings and no plans for keeping anyone from sneaking out of or back into the theater. They employed security guards regularly, but had chosen to send them home, prior to the midnight showing of “The Dark Knight Rises”.

    A theater with “no plans for keeping anyone from sneaking out of or back into the theater” (!??!?!??!!!) what!??!?!?!? There is a perfectly sound BUSINESS reason for that – ignoring any thoughts of security or “carrying” restrictions… I do have to wonder if a teenager would still be able to sneak 20 of his friends into that theater without an alarm or at least a little blinking light getting someone to check out this opened emergency door today (?) – What’s the emergency? Why is this door open? This same door that was apparently propped open while Mr. Holmes walked to and re-parked his car, dressed in his semi-armored outfit, gathered his weapons, and returned, and which allowed him unmonitored and unrestricted re-entry to a crowded theater, where he began his assault.

    Since you appear to be so fond of statements of logic, I will rephrase your statement claiming to state the path of my logic, but a little more accurately: “By my logic, a business owner in the states has either got to have reasonable measures in place to protect its unarmed patrons and to monitor and ensure a reaction to inappropriate violation of its established boundaries (walls, doors and windows).” A plus for them would have been to keep some of their security guards there a bit longer, but that would have been somewhat harder to predict and sustain.

    As @Dhewco stated, so-called “rent-a-cops” may very well have been essentially useless in response to such an assault, as they often have been given less training, less capable enforcement equipment, and unfortunately, have been shown to at times have less of a sense of actual duty than “real” police officers. Thankfully, in Aurora, Cinemark theaters had previously made a habit of employing security personnel which included “off-duty Aurora police officers” – they had just gone home before the shooting, apparently unlike some other theaters did for the release of this exact movie on this same night.

    To be clear, this theater should be open to litigation (in my opinion) not because of the lack of guards – but because there are extremely reasonable measures that could have been taken (which according to my knowledge were not taken) that would have SIGNIFICANTLY reduced the accused perpetrator’s ability to do what he is accused of (and I understand has openly admitted to) doing. EVERY SINGLE MOVIE THEATER should have perimeter monitoring equipment that sets off at least a visual alarm (ideally directly in front of one or more people that sit or stand in the same place for their entire shift… like Idunno… the box office personnel? concession staff?), who, when such a blinking light starts to blink, can intelligently and discreetly say “Hey manager Bob, it looks like the emergency door in theater 9 has been opened” so that Bob can say anything between “Hey, Jim, can you please go see if the emergency door in theater 9 is open and close it if it is? we can’t have people getting to see a movie for free!” to “Holy F***!!!! we’re all going to die! Call the police! Call the army! Everybody pray!!!” or whatever in between those two things Bob feels is most appropriate at the time.

  28. Warren August 22, 2014 at 11:40 am #

    Okay, so if I understand this correctly. All this moronic judge has done is allow this case to be heard. In other words putting it in the hands of the people/jury.

    Well as the poll about criminalizing allowing kids play outside, the vigilantes looking for kids in cars, and so on, from all this we can see that people in general are idiots.

    This is why we have judges isn’t it? Are they not supposed to make the hard rational calls?
    Instead they play it safe, because they can never be faulted for letting the people decide. And that is weak ass bull—-.

  29. Warren August 22, 2014 at 11:54 am #

    So Brett, how long have you been chasing ambuances?

    So now a business no longer has to weigh the cost/benefit of cameras on the rear door, as a will someone sneek in to see the movie for free, and I lose the price of a ticket………..they now have to include the risk of a mentally deranged psycho with an assault rifle coming in and spraying the audience?

    Okay, so say they did have the rear door monitored, by person or by camera…………..all that would have done is add one more body to the count. And you damn well know it.

    The only thing that could have stopped this, was direct and specific for knowledge. Short of the killer telling them when and where he was going on his spree, there was no way to guard against this. None. And the sooner idiots like you accept that you cannot control everything and everyone, the better the whole damn world will be.

  30. Brett P August 22, 2014 at 12:00 pm #


    Yes – this is what we pay judges for; and this is what some people pay lawyers for: Several parties sought to file suit against Cinemark (various reasons for how they as a theater were supposedly at fault). Cinemark either had or hired lawyers who, in mounting a legal defense, decided it would be in their interest to attempt to proverbially “kill two (or three or five or twenty) birds law suits at once, so they moved for summary judgement against the plaintiffs. They were partially successful (on various grounds) the first few times, and some of the suits were blocked, while others were merely moved to a different area of law for governance (“Cinemark can’t be held liable in that way, but they may be subject to liability this way”)

    That is, “wrongful death” is out, but “the Colorado Premises Liability Act, the same section of law that covers slip-and-fall lawsuits” is where they will “be allowed to go forward” (for more detailed case-by-case scrutiny)

    My personal opinion, is that, from what I have read, they seem to have missed several perfectly reasonable countermeasures that should be easily equivalent to not placing wet floor signs on a freshly washed floor, but which most likely contributed to unfortunately significantly greater consequences for many more people. The courts still have at least a year, I believe, to decide on any one given case of liability.

  31. FredTownWard August 22, 2014 at 12:16 pm #

    Actually, this halfwit of a judge is right though he’d have no idea why. This shooting actually COULD have been predicted…

    because it took place in a publicly designated Gun Free Zone.

    These would-be mass shooters are crazy not stupid, and they look for places that increase the likelihood they will be the only ones with a gun until the cops arrive. The Batman killer did not go to the theater nearest his home; instead he specifically sought one out in a neighborhood where he thought it less likely that anyone else would have a gun.

    Since the 1950’s all but one of the mass shootings in the US have taken place in publicly designated Gun Free Zones, including those on military bases, most areas of which became gun free zones in the 90’s. The single exception was the shooting of Congresswoman Giffords, which took place on a public street.

  32. Joe Carl White August 22, 2014 at 12:18 pm #

    As Ken White points out, the Post article got the judge’s decision wrong. http://www.popehat.com/2014/08/22/can-you-trust-the-media-to-get-legal-stories-right/

  33. Warren August 22, 2014 at 12:29 pm #

    Okay Brett, enlighten me.

    What possible reasonable countermeasures could a theatre take to prevent a mentally deranged person from going on a shooting spree? No double talk, no bullshit. Give me a straight forward list.

    Because shy of a fully armed professional security force, standing at the ready, weapons drawn, safeties off, and given orders to shoot first ask later, there is nothing that could have stopped this guy.

    Allowing the patrons to carry their weapons would not have stopped this killer.

  34. Steve S August 22, 2014 at 12:29 pm #

    Warren, I don’t know anything about the Canadian legal system, but the civil justice system in this country has always been like this. In a standard civil trial, a judge is there to rule on matters of law. It is up the to the jury to rule on matters of fact. In other words, questions related to things like guilt, culpability, negligence, etc. have to be decided by a jury.

    Dan, I am glad that Canada no longer has any gun crime. Those signs must really work well.

  35. Warren August 22, 2014 at 12:37 pm #

    It is all bull. This judge decided that the shooting was not predictable. But he was too chickenshit about a public backlash to stand by his decision, so he cowardly let it go to a jury. That is not doing his job, that is being a effin coward.

  36. Nadine August 22, 2014 at 1:36 pm #

    The police chief of Ferguson cited pipe bombs for the reason of using a armored vehicle at the demonstrations. If you go worst first anything is possible.

  37. Dan August 22, 2014 at 1:49 pm #

    Steve: “Dan, I am glad that Canada no longer has any gun crime. Those signs must really work well.”

    Not at all what I said, but since you raised the point:


    A quick first pass at the numbers for 2012 (just a cursory search) shows our homicide rate at 1.6/100,000, vs. the US at 4.7/100,000, a factor of 3x the rate. Total counts are 543 vs. 14,827, a factor of 27x.

    If you look at school shootings (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/School_shooting), the US is looking at >260 deaths since 1990, vs. Canada’s +/-40 since before the turn of the (last) century. I didn’t bother looking for other public venues.

    I never said we were perfect. But, my previous statement stands as-is: we’re doing just fine up here without metal detectors everywhere and/or a packin’ populace.

  38. Nadine August 22, 2014 at 2:21 pm #

    After some brutal killing sprees they changed in Australia and the statistics are the proof. It has been done before and can be implemented in the USA too. If there was only the political will.

  39. TM August 22, 2014 at 3:38 pm #

    So a couple of points, with the caveat that I strongly feel that the movie theater should not be found liable for injuries in these instances:

    First the actual decision text: https://pmcdeadline2.files.wordpress.com/2014/08/cinemark-dkr-summary-judgement-jury-trial-aug-2014-wm.pdf

    Second, the judge did not find that the shooting could have been predicted or that the theater was liable, but simply that “When evaluating the cases, using the *most favorable* interpretation for the non-moving party (that is, the plaintiffs, not the theater), there is enough of an argument to conclude that the plaintiffs may succeed in their actions and therefore the case is no eligible for summary judgement in favor of the theater.” The most important bit of that being “most favorable to the non-moving party” That’s the standard they use for summary judgements, where rather than going to a full trial, one party or the other asks a judge to rule immediately and completely. The consequence of this is that when you ask the judge to do that, legally they are required to assume your opponent is correct in their motions and you’re arguing that even if they are, they still can’t hold you liable.

    Third, based on that ruling, you can certainly see an argument that the theater may have had reason to “know” that an attack was possible. As an example per the ruling, the theater company hired an outside consulting firm with regards to security in the wake of border drug issues and that firm recommended implementing active shooter policies.

    Fourth, the no guns policy could absolutely be used in an argument that they are liable. Obviously there’s the argument stated further up comments that by requiring otherwise law abiding people to be disarmed, the theater thereby accepted responsiblity for protecting the theater goers against the same threats those goers would be protected against while legally armed. This is a weak argument in that it’s never been held (to my knowledge) against any other entity, and certainly there are other entities with less voluntary interaction (government buildings, colleges) that require the same and have never been held liable (heck, the court have even rules repeatedly the police have no responsibility to protect you at all, if the police don’t how could we expect a theater to?). It’s also weak because if the theater can be held liable for disarming someone, that same person is not obligated or required to attend that particular theater.

    More interesting to me would be the argument that in instituting a “no guns” policy at the theater, the theater is explicitly acknowledging the possibility and danger of someone with a gun in the theater, and therefore the idea of someone bringing in a gun and shooting is and was a foreseeable and addressable possibility. In other words, by trying to make the patrons “safe from guns” with a no guns policy, they are making themselves liable for protection against the same.

    All of that said, I really and truly do not think the theater should be held liable. Ultimately I strongly feel that liability should be strictly limited to actions and decisions made by or on behalf of theater personnel and only to such items that are actually related to the business at hand (that is, owning and maintaining a movie theater). I would no more expect a theater to think about (or protect against) an active shooter any more than I would expect them to think about (or protect against) someone wandering in with Ebola.

  40. Ronald Pottol August 22, 2014 at 3:42 pm #

    As someone else linked to popehat, the judge ruled that it was not impossible for a jury to find the theater liable (basically), and thus, allowed the suit to proceed. I doubt the theaters lawyers expected it to work, but it’s their job to try, and they get paid to try everything. It’s rare to get something thrown out at this stage, unless it is really merit less (ie, people paying a lawyer to do dumb things).

    Here’s the link again, have a read, and consider editing your story. I rather think the theater should win over all, but I don’t think this is what they should loose over http://www.popehat.com/2014/08/22/can-you-trust-the-media-to-get-legal-stories-right/

  41. Liz August 22, 2014 at 5:50 pm #

    When I was 19 I developed a bad stomach ulcer. The pain and sickness was horrible, and I developed a bad case of agoraphobia because every time I left the house I would feel sick.
    Why do I say this? Movie theaters were a particular place of fear for me. It’s dark, getting up disrupts other people, and I couldn’t just leave when I felt sick. I became completely terrified of going into movie theaters, and had to get there early, preferably being the first person there and sitting down when the lights were still up, and even then I would get panic attacks and have to leave.
    My reactions weren’t normal, and it took a few years of cognitive-behavioral therapy to be able to even step foot willingly into a theater. Now, I want to go.
    Making these kind of statements, that we should assume at all time in the theater that someone may jump out and start massacring everyone is the stuff of my past nightmares. I know that my responses were a sickness. Now we’re being told that they’re the norm. Can you imagine how long it would have taken for me to recover if every time I went into a movie theater there were armed guards and SWAT there? I would have never been able to recover! It’s a visual affirmation of everything my mind created! This isn’t helpful!

  42. SteveS August 22, 2014 at 7:58 pm #

    Warren, I don’t think it has anything to do with the judge being chickenshit, but rather him following the law. I don’t have the decision in front of me, but I am assuming that this was based on the theater owner filing a motion for summary judgment. If that is the case, he has to let it go to trial unless there are NO material facts in dispute. In this case, there are. If the judge were to just throw out this case and say “common sense” or something, when there were material facts in dispute, he would be overturned on appeal.

    FWIW, this case still has a hard road. If the jury is going to find for the plaintiffs, then they are going to have to believe that the theater knew this was going to happen. Given the rarity of mass shootings, I fail to see how this will happen.

  43. SteveS August 22, 2014 at 9:06 pm #

    Dan, Canada and the US are very different countries, so you are comparing apples to oranges. Regardless, gun control has done nothing to lower the crime rate. I was able to find several studies. In 1920, when there really wasn’t much in terms of gun control in Canada, your homicide rate was about 7% of what is was in the US. By 1986, there was significantly more gun control, your homicide rate was 35% of what it was in the US.

    In the US, a majority of states have made it easier for people to “pack pistols.” In that time, violent crime has either dropped or not risen in those states. Florida’s murder rate was 36% above the national average the year before they eased up restrictions on carry. The year after, it was 4% below the national average and has remained there since then.

    Putting a sign on your door saying no guns allowed isn’t going to do anything to stop a determined nutcase.

  44. Warren August 22, 2014 at 11:35 pm #

    Well Steve and all those saying the judge was right to do it, this is why your country is going to hell and fast.

    The judge said it could not be predicted. Period. But instead of taking a stance of common sense, he chickenshitted out. Judges when at this point in the process, do not give two shits about the law or common sense. All they care about is how they will look.

  45. Warren August 22, 2014 at 11:39 pm #

    And yes Steve, we are two completely different countries.

    Racism, sexism, bigotry and hatred are still running rampant thru most of the US, and are not close to being the same in Canada. Combine that with all the guns, and well KABOOM.

  46. J.T. Wenting August 22, 2014 at 11:52 pm #

    @Andy take away the “war on drugs” and that’s no longer the case.
    The vast majority of what’s behind bars in the US are there for drugs related offenses, mostly small time couriers dealers, locked up for decades.

  47. Incunabulum August 23, 2014 at 3:56 am #

    Lenore, you should read this article on the judge’s ruling on the Colorado theater shooting case.


    To summarize:

    The judge reviewed a motion for summary judgment from the defendant (the theater chain)arguing that the court should grant judgment to the defense without trial because the shooting was not foreseeable to the theater.

    The judge declined to offer a summary judgment, not because he felt that the shooting was forseeable – its clear in his ruling that he is not saying this – but because he felt that *if a jury believed the plaintiffs evidence* then that evidence may be persuasive enough to get them to rule for the plaintiff.

    “If plaintiffs supply any facts which support a valid legal theory, they have created a ‘genuine dispute of material fact,’ and the court must deny the motion.” – from the linked article

  48. Andy August 23, 2014 at 7:05 am #

    @J.T. Wenting Yes, war on drugs is large part of that. But, when you compare sentences for anything between USA and random European country, you are bound to find higher sentences in USA. The disparity is the biggest for marihuana and other similar drugs, but there is another big one for the whole sex offense category. Another would be treatment of small things underage drinking or curfew violations or things like that. I did not heard about any youngster here arrested for something like that. I just wont get arrested for loitering and no cop will stop me when I walk through the street.

    Sentences for anything in USA seem to be high. Lifelong consequences for being in prison seem to be harder too.

    Even general policing strategies differ a lot. Getting yourself arrested in USA seem much easier. Cases shown on this blog would not lead to arrest, I have to be violent of flee risk to be arrested. Cops could send social services at me, but arresting me as McDonald lady was would be illegal. So would arresting non violent men disagreeing with school administration.

    I’m not saying that we have better system overall, but you have very tough justice system. If it is not enough now, then I doubt there is a line when it be enough for some.

  49. SteveS August 23, 2014 at 8:38 am #

    The media, in their desire to sensationalize and get stories out as fast as they can, makes frequent mistakes. This is just another example of that. A dull article on the procedural issue probably does sell as well as the one that was written. It is clear that most readers aren’t going if the reporter is correct.

    Someone mentioned Australia and their gun control measures. They are one of the better examples of how strict gun control doesn’t do anything. More than a few gov’t sponsored studies have shown that the measures they took have done zero in terms of lowering the murder rate and other statistics actually show that some crimes, such as murder (by a gun) and armed robbery, increased.

    As for Canada and crime, I wouldn’t be so quick to pat yourselves on the back. As I pointed out earlier, since 1920, your crime rate rose faster than ours. If you include all violent crimes, in addition to murder, you get a different picture…475 per 100,000 in the US and 963 per 100,000 in Canada. If you look at the four western provinces that border the US and the states that border them to the south, you will find that the Canadian Provinces have a crime rate that is 66% higher.

  50. hineata August 23, 2014 at 5:33 pm #

    @J.T.Wenting – I do find your posts interesting often. Are you an Afrikaner, or just a garden variety white supremacist? Because you do seem on a fairly regular basis to find that society somehow favours the brown among us. I probably just notice because I am a left-leaning pinko varsity student, so I tend toward other interpretations about race-based stuff.

    @Warren and Dan – agreed, agreed, agreed on the gun stuff. Have y’all heard that Weird Al line in ‘Canadian Idiot’:

    ‘Why they don’t even take their guns to the mall!’

    You will never change the American gun culture, though, until the NRA accept that guns in fact are not necessary as replacements for having smaller male body parts, that one can be a man, regardless of phallus size, without such a dangerous phallic symbol.

    We Down Under have many people who own guns, and on any given ordinary day none that feel the necessity to carry those guns around in public places (unless you count hunting areas in the bush or possum hunting on farms as public places), and we survive relatively well.

  51. Melanie August 23, 2014 at 5:47 pm #

    Why on earth have 20 lawsuits been filed, presumably against Cinemark? Or even one, for that matter? Sometimes I despair about the direction in which we’re heading 🙁

  52. Papilio August 24, 2014 at 6:32 pm #

    @hineata: Apparently he’s Dutch…
    I found his comments often so lacking of any nuance or understanding of how this country differs from the USA*, that I stopped reading them before I’d pull out my hair. But he did indeed sound like a right-winger who lives in the worst of the worst neighborhoods and only sees the very edge of society, because he always had the most extreme examples of, well, everything.

    *If I’d write “childhood obesity is a growing problem in The Netherlands too” on this USA-based site, I wouldn’t be lying: it IS growing, it IS a problem. But the current percentage is also far, far lower than in the USA, and if you don’t know that, the statement above, despite being factually true, paints a picture that isn’t quite accurate (for a USA audience).

  53. SteveS August 24, 2014 at 6:36 pm #

    hineata, enough with the ridiculous “gun as a phallic symbol” BS. I am not sure how that accounts for women that carry firearms. Regardless, it is as tired as the other things, like sports cars, exercise regimens, and other various things men apparently do to get over their tiny junk. Most people carry guns for self-defense. I guess Australians fend off attackers, home invaders, and criminals by hitting them with their penises, but thankfully, we don’t witness that here.

    On a serious note, thousands of law abiding citizens carry guns every day without bother or hurting anyone else. I really don’t understand the hang-ups some people have about this.