*A Texas jury has ordered Charter Communications to pay $7 billion in punitive damages to the family of an 83-year-old woman who was murdered by a Spectrum technician.
As reported by Insider, Betty Thomas was killed by ex-cable technician Roy Holden in December 2019. Holden had made a service call at her house on Dec. 11 and returned the next day (while off-duty) after she continued to have service issues. That’s when she reportedly caught him stealing credit cards from her purse. Holden stabbed Thomas using one of the company’s utility knives, according to the plaintiff’s lawyers.
He reportedly used her debit card hours after her murder, the Dallas-based law firm that represented the family, Hamilton Wing, said.
The victim’s family sued Holden in March 2020 and added Charter as a defendant in May for hiring Holden “without verifying his employment history and “ignored a series of red flags,” including the killer’s written pleas to upper management to help him with financial and family problems,” per Law&Crime.
“This was a shocking breach of faith by a company that sends workers inside millions of homes every year,” trial lawyer Chris Hamilton said in a statement, per Law & Crime reports. “The jury in this case was thoughtful and attentive to the evidence. This verdict justly reflects the extensive evidence regarding the nature of the harm caused by Charter Spectrum’s gross negligence and reckless misconduct. For the safety of the American public, we can only hope that Charter Spectrum and its shareholders are listening.”
Per the law firm’s statement: “Charter Spectrum’s employees admitted at trial the field tech’s theft and crimes against the victim began while he was on duty and in the course and scope of his employment the day before. The company’s employees further admitted that there was a pattern of thefts by Charter Spectrum employees against customers (more than 2,500 in the preceding several years), which the company refused to investigate or report to police.”
“Charter Spectrum had too many chances to prevent this tragedy, and the company showed a complete disregard for the safety of its customers. Worse, the trial reveals how vulnerable Charter Spectrum customers remain today at the hands of a company that appears not to care about public safety,” said Hamilton Wingo trial lawyer Ray Khirallah. “This verdict fairly reflects the extent of the evidence against Charter Spectrum and the dangerous nature of the company’s serious misconduct and violations of the law.”
According to Insider, a lawyer told WSJ the $7 billion in punitive damages will likely be reduced by the judge handling the case.