Firm that won $816 million in Sept. 11 lawsuit sues for Aurora victims

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AURORA, Colo. -- More than a dozen victims and families of victims from the Aurora theater tragedy have enlisted the help of a prestigious New York law firm that won $816.5 million for first-responders to the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

The firm is Napoli Bern Ripka Shkolnik, and one of its senior partners Marc Jay Bern filed the lawsuit in Arapahoe County District Court on Tuesday. It alleges the Century 16 theater in Aurora failed to secure its complex in a way that would have prevented the July 20 shooting at a midnight premiere of "The Dark Knight Rises."

James Holmes is the accused gunman in the attack, which killed 12 and injured 58.

The defendants include the theater's parent company, Cinemark and Town Center -- a movie theater conglomerate based in Plano, Texas, as well as the Aurora theater's general manager, Nathan Crowdes, and manager, Jennifer Strensrud. 

Bern told several media outlets that his firm will be charging the victims and their families half its normal fee and will be seeking a "substantial amount of money" in addition to punitive damages.

Among other accusations, the suit alleges that there had been previous incidents of gang violence at the theater that should have prompted more attention from theater staff, and that the theater staff did not work to evacuate customers in a timely manner during the shooting.

A spokeswoman for Cinemark did not want to comment on this lawsuit.  But she points out they have filed a motion to dismiss the other lawsuits, claiming it was impossible for anyone to foresee the shooter’s violence that night.