A jury on Thursday said movie theater chain Cinemark was not liable in the 2012 shooting at a multiplex in Aurora, Colo., that left a dozen people dead at a midnight screening of "The Dark Knight Rises."
Lawyers representing the 27 plaintiffs in the civil case had argued that Cinemark failed to take adequate security measures in anticipation of such an attack. But the jury in Colorado state court sided with Cinemark, which argued that the massacre was an unforeseeable attack that could not have been planned against.
The verdict represents the first jury decision in a civil trial related to the shooting, in which 70 people were wounded. A separate federal trial is set to begin later this summer.
"Cinemark endured a tremendous tragedy as did the victims of the case and the entire Aurora community … at the hands of a madman, James Holmes," Kevin Taylor, an attorney for Plano, Texas-based Cinemark, said after the verdict was announced, according to the Associated Press. "Mr. Holmes was clearly unpredictable, unforeseeable, unpreventable and unstoppable."
Marc Bern, an attorney representing the plaintiffs, said he was "deeply disappointed" in the jury's verdict and planned to challenge the result.
"I believe the evidence was more than sufficient to justify a verdict against Cinemark for failing to have the appropriate security," Bern said.
He said Cinemark should have taken measures such as placing armed security guards at the theater and using closed-circuit television and roving patrols around the building's perimeter during the opening night of the summer blockbuster.
Bern said the chain lacked the "security required in a post-9/11 world, which requires constant vigilance."
Gunman James E. Holmes opened fire in the Century 16 auditorium on July 20, 2012. In August last year, he was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole, avoiding the death penalty.
Follow Ryan Faughnder on Twitter for more entertainment business coverage: @rfaughnder
2:26 p.m.: This article has been updated with a comment from a Cinemark attorney.