Torrence Brown Jr., one of the Aurora movie shooting survivors, is planning on suing the theater, confirmed his family's publicist on Wednesday. "We're going to make sure whoever is accountable is going to take responsibility for this tragedy," Cassandra Williams of Wet PR said. She said that Brown, who was friends with 18-year-old AJ Boik, one of the shooting victims, is handling the criticism his suit has sparked. "We know it goes with the territory, so he's fine," Williams said. She added that Brown, 18, is seeking therapy and is emotionally distraught after the shooting.
Brown's attorney Don Karpel told TMZ he plans to sue the Century 16 theater, which is owned by Cinemark, for having an exit door that was not equipped with an alarm or guarded. (Holmes reportedly left the theater through the exit door, propped it open and returned with his weapons.) Karpel also said he may sue Warner Bros for releasing violent movies that may have inspired the shooter, as well as the suspect's doctors, if he had any, for hypothetically not monitoring James Holmes' mental condition properly.
J.H. Verkerke, director of the University of Virginia Law School's Program for Employment and Labor Law, told Yahoo News that in general, it would be difficult to win a claim against a theater in this type of situation unless you could prove that the theater should have known about the threat and that its safety standards are below average compared to most movie theaters. Cinemark declined to comment on the suit on Tuesday.
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Lawsuits certainly aren't uncommon in the wake of mass shootings like Columbine, Virginia Tech and Fort Hood. After the 1999 Columbine school shooting, some families of the young victims banded together to sue gaming companies for $5 billion. The class action alleged that the shooters were influenced by violent video games, especially one called "Doom." A federal judge dismissed the suit. And several suits against the school were also nixed. But some families did win a settlement against the shooter's parents and against friends involved in providing guns to the young men.
Family members of some victims of the 2007 Virginia Tech shooting won their $8 million suit against the school for failing to notify students faster that a gunman was on campus, which they said would have saved their children's lives. The state settled with other victims' families for $11 million. More than 50 relatives of the victims of the Fort Hood massacre in 2009 sued the government, saying authorities ignored signs that the accused killer, Major Nidal Malik Hasan, was violent and dangerous.