Why Were Aurora Shooting Survivors Ordered to Pay $700,000 in Court Costs?

Don Emmert/Getty Images
Don Emmert/Getty Images

Last year, movie theater chain Cinemark drew a series of unfortunate headlines for attempting to hold victims of the July 20, 2012 shooting in Aurora, Colorado, liable for court costs. The 15 plaintiffs, who had pursued legal action against Cinemark for what they argued was insufficient security to stop shooter James Holmes—who killed 12 and wounded 70 during a screening of The Dark Knight Rises—lost and were subsequently responsible for $699,000 in attorney fees for the defendants in the state case.

So did Cinemark actually collect on what would have been a rather morbid debt?

They didn’t. Shortly after being vilified in the media, Cinemark agreed to drop its pursuit of court costs if the remaining plaintiffs dropped any future appeals. An unnamed source told the Los Angeles Times that the chain never intended to pursue collection, but it’s unknown what their motivation was in circulating a bill of costs in that amount.

Legally, it was a legitimate claim. After a Colorado state jury ruled on May 19, 2016 that Cinemark could not have foreseen the deadly intentions of Holmes, the company was entitled to seek remuneration for its legal fees under state law. (In a separate, federal case, a judge used the state decision as cause to rule in Cinemark’s favor.) The company announced on September 13, 2016 that it had come to an agreement with the opposing parties to drop the case, ending any potential of recovering those costs.

A memorial for those killed and injured in the attack is being planned for a space across the street from the theater. The project is still roughly $90,000 short of its $200,000 goal. Donations are being accepted at 7-20memorial.org.

The Mental Floss Store Is Back!

Mental Floss Shop
Mental Floss Shop

You've been asking about it for months, and today we can finally confirm that the Mental Floss Store is back up and running! Simply head here to find dozens of T-shirts with all sorts of unique designs to choose from, whether you’re in the market for a pi pun, a risqué grammar joke, or something only your fellow bookworms will appreciate. You can even use your new Mental Floss shirt to teach your friends all about scurvy.

Mental Floss Store

If you’re just in the mood to express your love of all things Mental Floss, you can also get our darling little logo on phone cases, tote bags, mugs, baby bibs, and more.

Mental Floss Store

Head on over to the Mental Floss Store to see our entire collection. And if you use the code FLOSSERS at checkout by end of day Sunday, you'll get 20 percent off your order. 

Sign Up Today: Get exclusive deals, product news, reviews, and more with the Mental Floss Smart Shopping newsletter!

The Time Larry David Saved a Man from the Death Penalty

HBO
HBO

In 2003, 24-year-old machinist Juan Catalan faced the death penalty for allegedly shooting a key witness in a murder case. Catalan told police that he couldn’t have committed the crime, as he was at a Los Angeles Dodgers game at the time. He had the ticket stubs and everything to prove it.

When police didn’t buy his alibi, Catalan contacted the Dodgers, who pointed him to an unlikely hero: misanthropic comedian Larry David. On the day in question, David had been filming an episode of Curb Your Enthusiasm at Dodger Stadium. It was a long shot, as there were 56,000 people at the game that day, but maybe Catalan could be seen in the background. So his attorney started watching the outtakes ... and found the evidence he needed. In fact, it took just 20 minutes to find shots of Catalan and his daughter chowing down on ballpark dogs while watching from the stands.

Thanks to the footage, Catalan walked free after five months behind bars. And Larry David found one more thing to be self-deprecating about. “I tell people that I’ve done one decent thing in my life, albeit inadvertently,” David joked.

In 2017, Netflix released a short documentay, Long Shot, about the incident.