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Aurora Shooting Lawsuits: Claims May Be Tossed

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By Deanne Katz, Esq. on January 28, 2013 5:41 AM

In the wake of the Aurora movie theater shooting, there were many lawsuits filed. Several survivors and relatives of those killed sued the theater, owned by Cinemark USA.

But it looks like certain claims in those lawsuits may not go forward. A federal judge recommended Thursday that some of the most serious claims be thrown out.

The recommendations aren't binding; the final decision rests with the judge overseeing the cases. But it raises questions about what suits the victims will be able to pursue.

The claims recommended for dismissal by Judge Michael Hegarty deal with wrongful death and negligence on the part of Cinemark.

It's not a lack of evidence in the Aurora shooting lawsuits; the problem is that Colorado law doesn't allow victims and their families to bring those particular claims, reports The Denver Post.

However, he did note that victims could rely on the Colorado Premises Liability Act (CPLA). Any claims for injuries that occur on the property of another must go through that law, according to Hegarty's recommendation.

While the cases were brought in federal court, there is no such thing as federal personal injury law. That means the court has to rely on the state law where the court is located.

In this case, that means Colorado law is applied.

The allegations are that Cinemark's poor security is what allowed alleged shooter James Holmes to attack. That kind of claim is limited under Colorado law, and must be brought under the CPLA. That means plaintiffs will have to show that the defendant had a duty to maintain the theater and failed to do so.

Claims that don't rely on failure in maintaining the property may be thrown out when the overseeing judge makes a final decision.

If that happens, some victims may have to start anew, but they could still bring their claims under the CPLA, reports NBC News. The decision could apply to seven of the 10 Aurora shooting lawsuits filed against Cinemark.

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