A Texas judge ruled today that the big cabler Charter Communications must pay $1.15 billion to the estate and heirs of a woman murdered by a repairman of the big cabler.
The figure was reduced from an initial $7.38 billion by Dallas County Judge Juan Renteria after a jury found the company guilty in the case of a Spectrum technician, Roy Holden Jr., who murdered 83-year-old Betty Jo McClain Thomas in 2019 at her home trying to rob her the day after he’d performed a service call there.
Holden pleaded guilty and was sentenced to life in prison.
The subsequent civil suit accused Charter of gross negligence for failing to verify Holden’s employment history, and of knowingly or intentionally committing forgery with the intent of defrauding plaintiffs — the personal representative of Thomas, and family members — to try to avoid a jury trial and force arbitration.
Charter shares fell 2.5% today.
Charter which will appeal, provided its statement from the verdict in June: “The responsibility for this horrible act rests solely with Mr. Holden, who was not on duty, and we are grateful he is in prison for life. While we respect the jury and the justice system, we strongly disagree with the verdict and will appeal.
“The law in Texas and the facts presented at trial clearly show this crime was not foreseeable — and the plaintiffs’ claims of wrongdoing by Charter are categorically false.”
Charter said it is “committed to the safety of all our customers and took the necessary steps, including a thorough pre-employment criminal background check — which showed no arrests, convictions or other criminal behavior. Nor did anything in Mr. Holden’s performance after he was hired suggest he was capable of the crime he committed, including more than 1,000 completed service calls with zero customer complaints about his behavior.”