In a state court suit by victims of the July 20, 2012 Aurora movie theater shooting, a security expert has testified that flaws in Cinemark’s security helped enable the attack.
University of New Haven professor Gil Fried opined that Cinemark “contributed to an environment where they didn’t have the deterrence or prevention necessary to protect the patrons in their theater.” He stated that Cinemark should have patched its security holes by placing alarms on exit doors and extending their surveillance coverage.
Fried pointed to Cinemark’s decision to not hire security for the premiere of the Batman movie “The Dark Knight Rises.” While the theater typically hired guards only on the weekend, 76 out of the 264 Cinemark theaters around the country showing the film that night did hire extra security for the Thursday night premiere.
Cinemark has argued that the shooting was not foreseeable and the company should not be held liable. Attorney for Cinemark, Kevin Taylor, contested Fried’s qualifications to testify as an expert witness in this case. Fried, who is the only witness for the plaintiffs, has never testified as an expert on movie theater security. Fried’s background is in analyzing security plans for large venues and sporting events.
Taylor plans to call five expert witnesses in Cinemark’s defense: a criminologist, a statistician, a psychiatrist, and two security experts. Cinemark paid one expert $180,000 to prepare a single report showing that mass shootings have not increased over time. One of these experts is a former theater company executive who specializes in movie theater security.
In this state court civil case, the victims of the shooting are arguing that Cinemark theater is liable for providing inadequate security. James Holmes has already been sentenced to 12 consecutive life sentences in prison for each of the people he killed, followed by another 3,318 years for those he injured. Cinemark also faces a separate suit in federal court by a different group of victims. Those trials are set to begin in July. See Traynom v. Cinemark USA, Inc., 940 F.Supp.2d 1339 (2013).