Ski/Ride Resorts Are Sitting Ducks, and They Don’t Even Know It

Last updated on Tuesday, April 19, 2022, at 1:40 AM by Webmaster.

We’ve written extensively about how the ski/ride resorts of America don’t not only understand basic security measures, they wouldn’t embrace them even if they bite them in the a**.

But that stance, the security hallmark of their past and present (but hopefully not their future) won’t serve them well when (not if) they get bitten in the a**.

Case in point?

“This Court [U.S. District Judge R. Brooke Jackson] is in no way holding as a matter of law that Cinemark [Making reference to the mass shooting on July 20, 2012, at the Century 16 Movie Theater in Aurora, Colorado, that occurred during a midnight screening of the film The Dark Knight Rises where 12 people were killed and 70 people were injured] should have known of the danger of someone entering one of its theaters through the back door and randomly shooting innocent patrons,” said Judge R. Brooke Jackson in his August 15, 2014, order. 1 “I hold only that a court cannot grant summary judgment on what is normally a question of fact under Colorado law unless the facts so overwhelmingly and inarguably point in Cinemark’s favor that it cannot be said that a reasonable jury could possibly side with the plaintiffs on that question.”  He added in the 17-page document denying Cinemark’s motion for summary judgement that, “I am not convinced.” A civil trial over 20 consolidated lawsuits is scheduled to start in February 2015.

Since the lawsuits first started being filed in late September 2012, Cinemark has argued over and over that it could not have known “a madman’s mass murder” could occur on their property. (The perpetrator has since been sentenced and received one life term for each person he killed, plus 3,318 years for the attempted murders of those he wounded, and for rigging his apartment with explosives. He’s not eligible for parole. “It is the court’s intention that the defendant never set foot in free society again,” Judge Carlos A. Samour Jr. said after imposing the sentence Wednesday. “If there was ever a case that warranted a maximum sentence, this is the case. The defendant does not deserve any sympathy.

This week, Jackson said that was just not enough in the America of 2012. “Although theaters had theretofore been spared a mass shooting incident, the patrons of a movie theater are, perhaps even more than students in a school or shoppers in a mall, ‘sitting ducks,’” he wrote. “One might reasonably believe that a mass shooting incident in a theater was likely enough (that is, not just a possibility) to be a foreseeable next step in the history of such acts by deranged individuals.”

Rather, it seems to me, the danger inherent in the construction and operation of this theater was that it allowed someone inside the theater surreptitiously to prop the door leading directly from the theater to the outside open and thereby to permit himself or others to enter the theater undetected and to commit a violent act against one or more patrons inside. The questions then become, did Cinemark know or should it have known that this danger existed, and, if so, did it exercise reasonable care to protect patrons against this danger.

Prop open one door? Ski /ride resorts are awash with such opportunities. For example, at one large ski/ride resort in Southern Vermont there are 37 exterior entry and exit doors on up to four levels that will allow you to directly enter the main base lodge or allow you to enter adjoining buildings that will take you to the main base lodge. Refer to the recently released book Soft Targets and Crowded Places (ST-CP). All 37 of those exterior doors are unmonitored and you can go ahead and prop open an or all of them if you so choose.

It also seems appropriate for ski/ride resorts to take notice of the up to $800 million that MGM Resorts International has agreed to pay to victims of the October 1, 2017, incident that targeted the Route 91 Harvest Music Festival in Las Vegas, Nevada, where 58 people were killed and over 800 people were injured. A NPR article states that “Lawyers representing survivors and victims wanted MGM held liable for negligence because the shooter was able to enter the hotel with luggage that held an arsenal of high-powered, assault-style weapons and thousands of rounds of ammunition.”

The perpetrator in the mass shooting that occurred on July 20, 2012, in the Century 16 Movie Theater in Aurora, Colorado, during a midnight screening of the film The Dark Knight Rises where 12 people were killed and 70 people were injured considered security during his planning stage. A The American Spectator article states that “In the 2012 Aurora, Colorado, theater massacre, the killer’s diary showed that he had decided against attacking an airport because of its ‘substantial security.’* And, out of the seven movie theaters within 20 minutes of the shooter’s home, he chose the only one that had posted signs declaring it to be a gun-free zone.” According to the book A Dark Night in Aurora: Inside James Holmes and the Colorado Mass Shootings the theater he chose was “isolated,” “proximal,” and “large.” 2  A Capital Gazette article states that “‘He [the perpetrator] scoped out the theater and took photos on at least three occasions,’ Bern said. ‘He picked this location because of lack of security.’” Bern is New York attorney Marc Bern, who is representing 27 of the [victims’] families [in a civil trial].

1. https://deadline.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/cinemark-dkr-summary-judgement-jury-trial-aug-2014-wm.pdf. 2. https://deadline.com/2012/09/cinemark-sued-for-negligence-in-aurora-tragedy-as-exhibitor-reveals-plans-to-reopen-742345/. 3. https://deadline.com/2012/09/cinemark-seeks-dismissal-of-colorado-theater-shooting-lawsuits-the-dark-knight-rises-344797/#more-344797 4. https://deadline.com/2012/10/cinemark-wants-latest-colorado-theater-shooting-lawsuits-dismissed-the-dark-knight-rises-james-holmes-357788/ 5. https://www.npr.org/2019/10/03/766800480/mgm-resorts-to-pay-up-to-800-million-to-victims-of-las-vegas-shooting. 6. https://spectator.org/mass-shootings-in-gun-free-zones/. 7. https://www.amazon.com/Dark-Night-Aurora-Colorado-Shootings/dp/1510735526/. 8. https://www.capitalgazette.com/news/nation-world/ct-colorado-theater-shooting-civil-suit-20160509-story.html. 9. https://www.cnn.com/2015/08/26/us/james-holmes-aurora-massacre-sentencing/index.html