Thomas Cooper/Getty Images
Thomas Cooper/Getty Images
You know those emergency exit doors that warn you that an alarm will go off if you open them?
Three victims of the July 20 mass shooting during a screening of The Dark Knight Rises in Aurora, Colo., have sued the movie theater for negligence because no such alarm went off.
In two federal lawsuits filed Friday, Denise Traynom, Brandon Axelrod and Joshua Nowlan allege that the exit door the gunman is said to have used to access the Cinemark USA-owned Century 16 multiplex should have been equipped with an alarm.
Authorities have alleged that suspect James Holmes, who has been charged with 24 counts of first-degree murder and 116 counts of attempted murder, entered the theater through the front but then propped open a rear exit door so that he could go to his car to grab the assault rifle and handguns used to massacre a dozen people and injure 58 others.
According to the Denver Post, the suit also alleges that Cinemark should have employed heightened security for the midnight screening in the first place.
Each plaintiff is seeking at least $750,000 in damages.
The theater chain had no immediate comment, but the complaint comes just as Aurora Mayor Steve Hogan and Cinemark president and CEO Tim Warner expressed mutual excitement that the Century 16, closed since the shooting, would be ready to reopen by the beginning of next year.
"Our thoughts and prayers continue to be with all those affected by the tragic events of July 20th," Warner wrote in a letter to Hogan just yesterday. "We too have been overwhelmed by the spirit of Aurora which extends to us and to our employees around the world. We will never forget the victims and their families."
The letter continued, "It will be our privilege to reopen the theater. We pledge to reconfigure the space and make the theater better than ever."
In response, the mayor released the following statement on the city of Aurora's website:
"The responses indicate overwhelming support to reopen the theater with renovations. The theater has been a valued part of our community for many years, and just as they have been all along, I am confident Cinemark will continue to remain sensitive to victims, their families, their employees and our community throughout their process of remodeling and reopening.
"We will always remember those who lost their lives and the many others impacted that day. While no one will ever forget that day, this is another step in the community's healing."
UPDATE: Four additional lawsuits were filed against Cinemark over the course of two days in October, one of them on behalf of three survivors, as well as a victim who was killed, and three separate wrongful death suits.