Two months after the devastating Aurora theater shootings in Colorado the first lawsuits against Cinemark, the owner of Century Aurora 16 Theater, are underway.  According to the lawsuits, there were “no security guards on duty the night of the shootings and no plans for keeping anyone from sneaking out of or back into the theater.”  Moreover, the lawsuits contend that the theater employs a lax pattern of security “even though the theater had a history of assaults, robberies and at least one gang-related shooting.”  Furthermore, the theater had no security guards on duty for the midnight showing of one of the year’s most highly anticipated movie premieres.

This appears to be a lawsuit based on the negligence of the theatre owners.  In my opinion, the moviegoers will probably prevail on the theory of Premises Liability.

What is Premises Liability?

"Premises liability" refers to liability resulting from accidents that occur due to the negligent maintenance or dangerous conditions on property owned by a third party.  The duty of a landowner to the injured person depends on whether the injured person is considered an invitee or a licensee.  An invitee is one who is on the premises for the benefit of the landowner, while a licensee is a mere social guest who is on the land for their own purpose.  The duty owed to an invitee by the property owner is to “warn or make safe dangerous conditions that are concealed and which the landowner knows of or should know of through reasonable inspection.”  The duty owed to a licensee by the property owner is to “warn of dangerous and concealed conditions that they are aware of.”

For more information about premises liability click here.