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Widow of Wesley Chapel theater shooting sues movie theater and employee

Nicole Oulson, wife of slain Chad Oulson, is suing an employee and the movie theater where her husband was fatally shot. [BRENDAN FITTERER | Times] 
Nicole Oulson, wife of slain Chad Oulson, is suing an employee and the movie theater where her husband was fatally shot. [BRENDAN FITTERER | Times] 
Published Jan. 13, 2016

The widow of Chad Oulson, who was shot and killed by former Tampa police Capt. Curtis Reeves inside a Wesley Chapel movie theater in 2014, filed a lawsuit Tuesday against the movie theater company and a theater employee, claiming they didn't enforce the company's prohibition on weapons.

Nicole Oulson filed the civil suit in Pinellas-Pasco Circuit Court and also listed the owner of the plaza where the movie theater sits as a defendant.

Reeves, now 73, is charged with second-degree murder in the shooting death of Chad Oulson, 43. Reeves, who was sitting behind Oulson during the previews, became frustrated by Oulson's use of his cellphone, authorities said, and complained to management. After Reeves returned to his seat, security video from inside the theater showed Oulson grabbing the older man's popcorn and throwing it at him. That's when Reeves pulled out his gun and fired. The bullet hit Nicole Oulson's hand before striking Chad Oulson in the chest.

The complaint by Oulson attorney TJ Grimaldi asserts the employee, Thomas Peck, was negligent for not acting more urgently when Reeves left the theater to complain to management about Chad Oulson.

"Mr. Reeves was a 71-year-old man, in self-declared poor health," the lawsuit said. "Therefore, he did not run back to the theater, which gave (Peck) plenty of opportunity to either follow Mr. Reeves back to theater then or at least head that way within a reasonable period of time."

The suit also said the movie theater company, Cobb Theatres LLC, acted negligently by implementing a no-firearm policy at the Cobb Grove 16 theater with no way to enforce the rule. The complaint also alleged Cobb was negligent in its hiring and training of Peck.

Also named in the suit is Oakley Grove Development LLC, the owner of the Grove at Wesley Chapel, the shopping center that houses the movie theater.

In each count, Grimaldi wrote that as a direct result of the defendant's negligence, Chad Oulson died and Nicole Oulson suffered permanent physical, psychological and economic damage.

Reeves has invoked Florida's "stand your ground" law in the criminal case, asserting he shot Oulson in self-defense. A judge is set to review Reeves' "stand your ground" defense at a hearing that will take place in April or May.

Contact Josh Solomon at (813) 909-4613 or jsolomon@tampabay.com. Follow @josh_solomon15.

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