Revictimization or Know When to Take the Settlement


Last year the Brady Campaign backed one of the families of one of the victims of the Aurora Theater Shooting in a lawsuit against Lucky Gunner, the company that sold ammo and other items to James Holmes.

Brady convinced Lonnie and Sandy Philips, the parents of Jessica Ghawi, that it was really Lucky Gunner who was responsible for the Aurora Shooting.  Supposedly, an online ammo vendor should have known that James Holmes was going to commit a massacre because…. reasons.

Of course the lawsuit against Lucky Gunner was in complete violation of the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act, which protects gun and ammo makers and dealers for being sued for crimes committed by their products if they (the makers and dealers) obey the law.  According to Colorado law HB 000-208, when the Philips lost the case (it was dismissed by the Judge) they had to pay court costs to Lucky Gunner to the tune of $203,000.  HB 000-208 is one of a number of laws across many states designed to reduce the number of nuisance and frivolous lawsuits by making the loser pay court fees.

Well, some of the Aurora families tried their luck again and sued the Cinemark Theater where the shooting occurred.  They lost, and now owe the theater $700,000.  They were offered a settlement, and encourage by the judge to take it.  They decided to roll the dice and go for broke (literally) and lost.

During the trial, the judge had urged the survivors to take a settlement deal, which Marcus Weaver, who was shot in the shoulder, called a “slap in the face.”  But the judge also warned that if they rejected the settlement and lost, they’d be hit with the heavy legal costs.  “Either seek justice and go into debt, or take that pitiful offering of money and the improved public safety,” Weaver told the Times.  While the victims originally agreed to take the $150,000 settlement, a plaintiff who lost her child and was left paralyzed from the theater shooting rejected the deal.

A few months ago, a jury decided after three hours of deliberation, that the Cinemark Theater was not legally responsible for the shooting.   The lawsuit was based mostly on the idea that since there was a memo from Homeland Security that theaters may be targeted for terrorist attacks, the theater should have had better security and armed guards.

The jury was not allowed to hear about the memo.  In my non lawyer opinion, so what?  A memo from Homeland Security saying that terrorists might target movie theaters is a far cry from is not a reasonable prediction that an specific theater was going to suffer an attack on a specific day, and not justification for armed guards.  If that were the case, every theater in America, would have to have armed guards all the time.  For that matter, every facility in America that Homeland Security says might be targeted by terrorist (which is just about everywhere) would have to have armed guards.  This would be both very expensive, and a general turnoff to consumers and patrons.  How many people would pay $50 in tickets, popcorn, candy, and drinks to be in a place where you had to have armed guards to keep you safe if six months later you can get the same experience at home for $5.99 on On Demand/PPV?

The jury seems to have to the same conclusion that I did:

But the jury in the civil trial ruled unanimously that Cinemark had no reason to expect a mass shooting was imminent. Holmes’ attack was the first mass shooting at a movie theater in the US. “If Cinemark is liable under these circumstances, every single business in the world will be held liable for what happens on their property, regardless of how foreseeable it is,” the Post quotes an attorney for Cinemark as saying.

One of the Aurora plaintiffs had  a moment of clarity and bailed on the case before the poop hit the fan.

Weaver removed himself as a plaintiff immediately. So did 25 others. By the next day, 15 plaintiffs remained when Jackson handed down the order that Cinemark was not liable for the damages.  “A blind guy in a dark alley could have seen [the state verdict] coming,” Harding, Weaver’s attorney, said.

The media doing their damned to spin this as a case of “woe to the victims” by how “unfair” it is that the people who shot got shot in the Cinemark Theater have to pay Cinemark $700,000.  But as we saw with Lucky Gunner, in Colorado, loser pays and unless there is a very specific threat made, the shooting is the responsibility of nobody but the shooter.

I just hope the that suit against Remington regarding the Sandy Hook Shooting is dealt with by the jury in the same way.



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  1. My extra thought on this is there is some culpability of Cinemark because it is a GFZ and they do not provide security.

  2. I wonder if the Philips’s can file suit against the Brady foundation for pushing them into an illegal lawsuit and then getting hung out to dry. Probably not, unfortunately, but I bet an enterprising lawyer could find something.

  3. Greed drives the gambling urge. Everybody wants what they think is free money, and there is an army of lawyers who specialize in quick pay days. Instead, their greed came back to bite them big time. Even a great M1911A1 with top-of-the-line ammo and lots of time at the range is cheaper than rolling the dice, getting shot without the ability to shoot back, and then losing a meritless lawsuit. People need to take responsibility for themselves and their safety rather than look for quick pay days after the fact.

  4. So the same guy that said the settlement was a slap in the face bailed when he saw it wasn’t going to work out for then big-time, how’s that for a slap in the face saddling all those people with his share of the debt.

  5. […] that JASTA is widely popular in the US, and the lawsuits against gun manufacturers aren’t.  Closer examination of lawsuits against gun manufacturers shows that all of them have failed, and those bringing the suits have often been saddled with the […]

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