In June, a jury also said that the cable company had to pay Thomas and her family $375 million in damages, which was 90% of that amount.
A jury in Dallas County decided that Charter Communications, which is also known as Spectrum, was careless when it hired the field technician who killed one of its customers. Damages to the company amount to billions of dollars.
The jury gave Charter $7 billion in punitive damages for “systemic safety failures” related to the murder of Betty Thomas, who was 83 years old, by one of its technicians in 2019. In early June, a jury also said that Charter had to pay Thomas’s family 90 percent of $375 million in damages.
In June, a jury found that Charter was responsible for an employee of the company who robbed and killed Thomas. Roy Holden Jr., 43, was arrested by police in December 2019. He pleaded guilty to murder and was given a life sentence in April 2021.
In this case, the family was represented by Hamilton Wingo, which is based in Dallas.
Chris Hamilton, a trial lawyer for Hamilton Wingo, said, “This was a shocking breach of trust by a company that sends workers into millions of homes every year.” “The jury, in this case, thought about the evidence and paid close attention to it. This verdict is fair because it is based on a lot of evidence about how much damage Charter Spectrum’s gross negligence and reckless behavior caused. We can only hope that Charter Spectrum and its shareholders are listening for the safety of the American people.”
In their complaint against Charter, the victim’s family said that when Charter bought Time Warner Cable in 2016, the cable company got rid of a program for screening employees that Time Warner Cable had in place. Holden is said to have been hired by Spectrum without his work history being checked, which would have shown that he lied about his work history.
According to trial testimony, Holden would have been fired from his previous jobs for forgery, making up documents, and harassing other employees.
Holden was the Spectrum field technician who went to Thomas’s house in December 2019 to help her with her phone line. The next day, he drove a Spectrum van to her house and stabbed her with a utility knife that the cable company gave him.
After getting a call about an unconscious person, the police found Thomas’s body. Detectives say that Thomas had been stabbed multiple times and was already dead when police arrived.
In June, lawyers said that Holden took her credit cards and went on a “shopping spree.” They also said that Thomas’s death could have been stopped and that Spectrum’s hiring process had “systemic failures.”
In the days before Thomas was killed, Holden allegedly told his supervisors more than once that he was having big personal and financial problems because of a divorce that left him without money or a place to live, according to trial testimony. He is also said to have cried in a meeting and told his boss he wasn’t okay.
Evidence showed that as soon as he was turned down for money, he started scamming older women who had Spectrum cable by stealing their credit cards and checks.
Holden is said to have had full access to his Spectrum vehicle without permission and was likely sleeping in it in the weeks before the murder.
Police and prosecutors asked Spectrum to keep the evidence safe, but Spectrum did not do so. One Spectrum security executive testified that the company was “not necessarily” required to tell the truth or work with the police.
After Thomas’ family filed the lawsuit, Hamilton Wingo said Spectrum lawyers used a fake document to try to force the lawsuit into a closed-door arbitration, where the results would have been kept secret and damages for the murder would have been limited to the amount of Thomas’ final bill.
According to Hamilton Wingo, the jury found beyond a reasonable doubt that Spectrum committed forgery, which is a crime of the first degree in Texas.
Attorneys said that after Thomas died, his family got a bill from Spectrum that included a $58 charge for the murderer’s service call. They also said that the family kept getting bills for service for weeks after Thomas died.
During the trial, it came out that Spectrum employees had stolen from customers more than 2,500 times in the past few years, but the company refused to investigate or tell the police.
“Charter Spectrum had way too many chances to stop this tragedy, but the company didn’t care at all about its customers’ safety. Worse, the trial shows how vulnerable Charter Spectrum customers are to a company that doesn’t seem to care about public safety, said Ray Khairallah, a lawyer for Hamilton Wingo in the case. “This verdict is fair because it shows how much evidence there was against Charter Spectrum and how dangerous the company’s serious wrongdoing and breaking of the law was.”