Despite losing a lawsuit against Cinemark USA, victims of a 2012 Colorado theater shooting will not have to pay the company’s $700,000 legal costs, after the company reached an agreement on Tuesday.
Twelve people were killed and more than 70 were injured in a mass shooting at the Aurora Century 16 movie theater on July 20, 2012. Surviving victims and relatives of those killed later sued Cinemark, the company that owns the theater, arguing that it used insufficient security measures and that the attack might otherwise have been prevented.
In the subsequent trial, Cinemark lawyers successfully argued that the incident was unforeseeable. In May, a jury found that the company was not liable for the shooting.
Under Colorado law, defendants of civil lawsuits are entitled to recoup "litigation costs," which are separate from attorney's fees, if they win in court. Cinemark spent nearly $700,000 defending itself in court, the chain said, and initially asked that the families who filed the suit pay that cost.
But the company offered to withdraw its request if the victims agreed not to appeal the jury’s verdict. On Tuesday, both parties signed a stipulated agreement in Arapahoe District Court.
Cinemark's "goal has always been to resolve this matter fully and completely without an award of costs of any kind to any party," the company's lawyers wrote in the agreement.
As a formality, the deal must be signed by a judge before the case is officially closed. If approved, the suit would be the last of several state court claims against Cinemark in the wake of the attack.
A different group of victims had filed a federal lawsuit against the company, but that suit was dismissed following the state court’s verdict. Appeals have not yet been resolved in that case.
In the wake of the Aurora shooting, many uninsured victims were burdened by enormous medical bills. Several of the hospitals treating victims agreed to limit or waive those costs – a gesture echoed by Orlando hospitals after the Pulse nightclub shooting. In 2011, one year before the Colorado shooting, almost one third of the state's residents lacked health insurance, as the Associated Press reported in July 2012.
"We are committed to supporting these families as they heal," Children's Hospital Colorado, which treated six victims, said in a statement at the time, announcing that it would cover uninsured victims' costs with donations and a charity care fund.
In the criminal case following the shooting, prosecutors sought the death penalty for gunman James Holmes. Mr. Holmes pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity, and in 2015, was convicted on 24 counts of murder and 140 counts of attempted murder. He was sentenced to multiple life sentences without the possibility of parole.
This report includes material from Reuters.