Liability For Dark Knight Studio Is Unlikely
First things first. Our thoughts, prayers and condolences go out to the victims and families in the Aurora shooting. Many people will grope for an explanation, and there will no doubt be legal actions that arise from the tragedy. Here’s an interesting article that talks about whether Warner Brothers – the producer of “The Dark Knight Rises” – could face liability. The answer is that it is highly unlikely. Even if the shooter was inspired by the film (a fact that would be difficult to prove) the law recognizes the concept of an “intervening act.” That means that if there is a chain of events leading to a bad result, the person who originally sets things in motion is liable only of the result is a pretty certain outcome. So if I park my car on a steep hill and forget to put on the emergency brake, I may be liable if my car rolls back down and hits something. But if I leave my keys in the car by mistake, and a thief steals it, I’m probably not liable if he hits someone with my car. In this case, a court would most likely find the shooter was an intervening cause. In addition, Warner Brothers would have a strong First Amendment argument. If a civil jury could slap it with a verdict, that would have a chilling effect on all kinds of literature, music and movies. There have been a host of lawsuits in these kinds of circumstances, and they almost always fail.