Divorce Law and Real Estate Attorney Blog(Vol.I.3)
by Craig Franklin Chambers, Esq. The Littleton Lawyer.
In my role as a real estate and family law attorney in Littleton, Highlands Ranch, Denver, and the surrounding areas, I often take on other types of cases, including, as one example, premises liability cases.
The Colorado premises liability statute replaces all negligence claims for relief and are the only civil claims available for the victims of the Cinemark shooting incident that occurred last July at the Century theater in Aurora.
I am familiar with Cinemark. I represented a Plaintiff in a premises liability case against Cinemark in Aurora several years ago. Civil suits against the movie theater where a patron is injured are premises liability cases.
The Premises Liability Statute establishes three distinctive categories with different standards of care for the owner of the theater depending on the relationship between the cinema and the person injured at the cinema. These three categories are trespasser, social guest, or invitee. The patrons at the cinema would be invitees; invitees are owed the highest duty of care of the three categories.
One significant issue in the context of these civil cases will be forseeability. The question is whether this terrible event was forseeable. If it was, the cinema's failure to protect the patrons against the shooter could and should result in liability. This is a question for the judge upon a motion for summary judgment and upon Defendant's motion for a directed verdict at the end of the Plaintiff's case.
Ultimately, if a civil case goes that far, this is a question for the jury.
Cinemark will use every trick of the trade to deny any recovery because a recovery will result in Cinemark funding substantially more expensive security measures for all of its theaters. Even without an award to the shooting victims, the theater's security measures will have to re-evaluated because now future incidents like this are foreseeable.
Just as one terrorist on a plane with a shoe bomb has resulted with everyone being asked to removed their shoes for inspection at the airport before a flight, the movies will no longer be considered as safe as they were without additional security measures before this terrible event.