Colorado Theater Shooting


Our hearts, along with the hearts of all other Americans, go out to the community of Aurora, Colorado.

As I’m sure you know, this nation has been reeling for the last week in the aftermath of the deadliest U.S. shooting since the now infamous Virginia Tech massacre of 2007.  In Aurora, Colorado, a quirky graduate school dropout, James Eagan Holmes, entered a late-night showing of The Dark Knight Rises in the wee hours of Friday, July 20th, and unleashed a barrage of unprecedented evil and destruction.  His use of tear gas and four different firearms left 12 innocent people dead and 58 others injured.  Ambulances and medics spent hours trying to save those still hanging onto life and transporting others to local hospitals.

Though the death toll is currently set at 12, there is no telling what the true number will be.  With 58 still attempting to recover from injuries inflicted by Holmes, there may be some that don’t fully recuperate and do end up dying as a result of the actions of James Eagan Holmes.  The family’s of the 12 dead are currently experiencing intense, unfathomable amounts of distress and grief, not to mention the wildly unexpected financial burdens of arranging funerals for the victims of an out-of-the-blue deadly attack.  The other 58—those still alive—are gripping to life while their families tend to them, emotionally, physically and financially.

In personal injury law, we often see people faced with unexpected damages (emotional, physical, financial or other) as a result of a car accident in which they were not the negligent party.  In such a case, the victim—the one not at fault—would demand compensation from the tortfeasor—the person who is at faultto cover the costs associated with recovering and recuperating from the car accident.  But what happens when the tortfeasor is a madman who unleashed a flood of bullets into a densely occupied movie theater, killing innocent people and injuring dozens of others?  Unlike the simple fender-bender gone wrong, there is a serious criminal aspect associated with this Colorado shooting case.

The criminal case will be handled by lawyers for the state of Colorado who will charge Holmes with breaking the law by committing (and attempting to further commit) murder.  He will face many, many charges all related to his obviously criminal actions on the night of July 20th of this year.  While the criminal proceedings will revolve around the state of Colorado attempting to hold Holmes responsible for breaking Colorado’s laws, Holmes normally will not be called on to repay those he injured through the criminal case (such as those he physically injured as well as their family members, friends, colleagues, etc,).  Rest assured that Holmes will be called to answer for damages that he caused his victims; that part of the saga, however, will unfold in the almost inevitable civil trials which will be completely separate from the criminal trials.

James Eagan Holmes did a great deal of damage last week—to his family, his community, his victims, their families, their friends, their colleagues, and, last but not least, to our sense of security.  A person with such wanton disregard for the safety and well being of others must be forced to face those he hurt and aid in their recovery.

For questions concerning the distinction between criminal and civil cases, or for questions about any other personal injury issue, please contact us at 561-266-9191 or email us at

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