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Cinemark USA, Theater Chain, Seeks Dismissal Of Lawsuits In Colorado Mass Shooting

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In this July 20, 2012 photo, police are positioned outside the Century 16 movie theatre in Aurora, Colo., at the scene of a mass shooting. (AP Photo/Ed Andrieski) | AP

By Keith Coffman

DENVER, Sept 27 (Reuters) - A theater chain being sued by three Colorado moviegoers who were hurt when a gunman opened fire during a July screening of the "Dark Knight Rises" said on Thursday the lawsuits should be dismissed, court papers show.

James Holmes, a 24-year-old former neuroscience graduate student at the University of Colorado, has been charged with murder and attempted murder for the rampage that killed 12 people and wounded 58 others.

Lawyers for Cinemark USA are seeking dismissal of the lawsuits filed last week in Denver federal court by the victims, who said the theater had lax security.

"It would be patently unfair, and legally unsound, to impose on Cinemark, a private business in the entertainment industry, the duty and burden to have foreseen and prevented the criminal equivalent of a meteor falling from the sky," the motion said.

Texas-based Cinemark argued that because its employees did not know the accused shooter and were not trained in law enforcement or criminal pathology, "the fault here lies entirely with the killer."

Attorneys for the victims could not immediately be reached for comment.

The three victims said in their lawsuit the theater should have had more security in place because it was aware of previous crimes in or near the theater, including "assaults and robberies" and at least one gang shooting.

Cinemark disputed the assertion about a previous gang shooting, but noted that even if true, "such an event would be insufficient to make a madman's mass murder foreseeable."

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