As you may recall, July 20, 2012 was one somber day among the alarmingly rapidly growing list of somber days in American life. That was the day of the mass shooting in Aurora, Colorado, where gunman James Holmes opened fire on a midnight screening of The Dark Knight Rises at the Aurora Century 16 movie theater, killing 12 people and injuring 70.
The shooting started a national conversation about movie-theater security, and in 2012 nearly 30 victims and relatives of victims filed a class-action lawsuit against Cinemark, alleging that the theater chain had failed to provide adequate security to prevent the massacre. Cinemark won the lawsuit at the state level in May, and just last week the company’s attorneys successfully filed to have the suit dismissed in a federal court.
Like many states, Colorado law allows the winners of a civil case to request that the losing side pay their court costs. And The Denver Post reports that last week, Cinemark did just that, asking the plaintiffs to pay $699,187.13 to cover the company’s court costs. For some perspective, this is the third-largest theater chain in America—whose profits were up 37.6 percent in the first quarter of 2016—quibbling with survivors (and relatives of those who didn’t survive) of a horrific massacre over less than a million dollars. Even if—as some have alleged—the civil suit was misguided, that certainly doesn’t make Cinemark look good.
The plaintiffs won’t have to pay the fees unless a judge approves the final totals, though, and The Denver Post speculates that this may simply be a strategic move on Cinemark’s part to get the plaintiffs to drop any further appeals. So this might not actually happen. But the PR damage has already been done.