4 Aurora shooting survivors ordered to pay Cinemark nearly $700,000

AURORA, Colo. -- Four survivors of the Aurora theater shooting are appealing an order by a judge to pay nearly $700,000 in legal fees to the movie theater chain.

Relatives of those killed and wounded in the July 20, 2012, massacre sued Cinemark, the company that owns the Century 16 Theater where James Holmes opened fire during a midnight showing of the Batman film “The Dark Knight Rises.”

The families claimed there was not enough security to stop the gunman from carrying out the shooting that night.

In May, an Arapahoe County civil jury ruled  Cinemark was not liable for the shooting, which left 12 people dead and 70 others injured.

Cinemark asked for money from the victims after it was found to not be liable. Lawyers for Cinemark filed the "bill of costs" for $699,187.13 in June in Arapahoe County court.

The Los Angeles Times reported a group of survivors were prepared to settle with Cinemark in the federal case that was brought after U.S. District Judge R. Brooke Jackson said he was prepared to rule for the theater chain.

Jackson said the jury's verdict in the state case in May had decided the issue. Still, the survivors and Cinemark negotiated a possible settlement on June 23 and had 24 hours to reach a conclusion.

Cinemark's offer, the Times reported, was $150,000 to be split among 41 plaintiffs, with the three most critically injured to each receive $30,000. The remaining 38 would equally split the remaining $60,000.

One of the plaintiffs said it "was a slap in the face." But if the deal wasn't accepted, Cinemark said it would move forward under Colorado law and seek the large court fees that had accumulated.

“Either seek justice and go into debt, or take that pitiful offering of money and the improved public safety,” survivor Marcus Weaver said.

But one plaintiff, who had been paralyzed and lost her unborn baby in the shooting, turned down the deal. Others followed, with 37 plaintiffs eventually withdrawing themselves from the case.

Four plaintiffs -- Ashley Moser, Stefan Moton, Joshua Nowlan and Nickelas Gallup -- remained in the lawsuit. On June 24, Jackson ruled Cinemark was not liable for damages.

The court costs in the state case were nearly $700,000 and the costs in the federal case are expected to be a lot more, the Times reported.

“A blind guy in a dark alley could have seen coming,” Weaver's attorney, Phil Hardman, said.

The four remaining plaintiffs have appealed Jackson's ruling to the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.