A civil jury in Colorado has just decided that Cinemark is not liable for the terrible shooting in Colorado. The jury took less than a day to reach its verdict.

Movie theater
Copyright: fergregory / 123RF Stock Photo

This is an important decision for a variety of reasons:

  1. Juries tend to sympathize with victims. There is no question but that the families suffering from the shooting are blameless and sympathetic.
  2. Corporations are never easy to defend. You need to humanize the corporation when you are its lawyer. The movie theater is about the person taking tickets, the usher and the young woman selling popcorn. It is not about the suit in New York.
  3. You cannot prevent the unpreventable. How many guards would have made the shooting impossible. Ten, a hundred? To ask the question is to answer it.
  4. At what point do you ruin the experience?  Movie theater owners are already in the midst of debating how people are going to enjoy creative entertainment. There is a thought (perhaps nostalgia) that going to a movie is a communal experience, with an audience reaction being part of that experience. If it is an armed camp, who will come?

Lawsuits are always about relationships and obligations. The movie chain had no relationship to the shooter. It was not his employer. He did not show up and make threats ahead of time. He did not issue warnings online. It is fortunate that shootings in theaters are rare occurrences and thus the jury felt that there was no foreseeability to the event. Score one here for common sense. And again, regrets and sympathy to the families that suffered a loss.