Some of the victims have already filed civil lawsuits arising from the tragic attack at the batman showing in Aurora Colorado. See James Holmes Massacre First Lawsuit. According to this particular victim's personal injury lawyer, he sees three defendants:
1. the theater for negligent security;
2. the gunman's doctor for not properly monitoring him; and
3. Warner Brothers because the film was particularly violent.
The first claim, negligent security, may have merit, however, the second two claims are absurd. As a St Louis lawyer that has handled negligent security cases in the past, I believe the best argument is against the theater for negligent security. However, this is still a very difficult case to pursue. I am not certain about Colorado law, but under Missouri law the Plaintiff must show that the maintenance, functionality, or security of the door was negligent and the crime was also foreseeable. How is foresee-ability proven? Typically through experts that rely on crime statistics for that specific property and in the general area. For example, what was the rate of violent crime in the area? If there is a high rate or above average rate of violent crime, then maybe violent crime was foreseeable, thus the shooting was foreseeable and better security measures should have been in place.
Additionally, was the outside door the shooter entered through a security door? In Missouri under the case Keenan v Miriam Foundation, the Plaintiff does not have to establish prior violent crime if the Defendant assumed the duty to provide exterior security doors.
"One who undertakes, gratuitously or for consideration, to render services to another which he should recognize as necessary for the protection of a third person or his things, is subject to liability to the third person or his things, for physical harm resulting from his failure to exercise reasonable care to protect his undertaking, if:
(a) his failure to exercise reasonable care increases the risk of such harm,
(b) he has undertaken to perform a duty owed by the other to the third person,
(c) the harm is suffered because of reliance of the other or the third person upon the undertaking."
Therefore, once a duty is assumed there is an obligation to reasonably fulfill that duty. So did the movie theater know of prior crime or problems with that outer door? Were they aware of people in the past bypassing that door from the inside or outside? See, Legal elements of 3rd party criminal act injury cases. See also, Missouri Law on Suing a Property Owner for Negligent Security after a Criminal Attack - Assumption of the Duty , also see, Defective and Unmaintained Security Doors - Rape of woman inside her own apartment.
Lastly, the theater has a strong defense based on an unforeseeable attack. The attacker went through such extensive preparation and planning that the defense will argue that the victims were targeted months in advance and that a higher level of security would not have prevented this crime, and that the attacker would have just found another was to pull of his scheme.
Can the negligent security claim be successful? yes, but it depends on a lot of evidence that we do not know about yet. A far as the other two claims, they will likely be dismissed by the court long before they ever get in front of a jury.