Texas Jury Slaps Additional $7B In Punitive Damages On Charter Communications For Murder

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  • Charter Communications, Inc CHTR is liable for $7 billion in punitive damages after a Texas jury found it responsible for one of its employees who robbed and killed a customer three years ago.
  • “This was a shocking breach of faith by a company that sends workers inside millions of homes every year,” said trial lawyer Chris Hamilton of Dallas-based Hamilton Wingo.
  • In 2019, Roy Holden Jr., one of Charter’s cable technicians, murdered 83-year-old Betty Thomas.
  • Holden had performed a service call at Thomas’s home, and when he returned the following day, he stole credit cards from Thomas’s purse and stabbed her using a tool from his company toolbox.
  • Trial testimony revealed that Charter Spectrum hired Holden without verifying his employment history, which would have revealed that he had lied about his work history.
  • In the weeks before he robbed and murdered Thomas inside her Irving home, supervisors ignored a series of red flags, including Holden’s own written pleas to upper management for help because of severe distress over financial and family problems.
  • Jurors agreed that Charter Spectrum’s actions were the “proximate cause” of Thomas’s death and found Charter Spectrum 90% responsible for the death, given Charter Spectrum’s continued refusal to correct its negligent safety practices despite a repeated pattern of violence against innocent customers by its field techs over the years.
  • Holden, who admitted to the crime and in April 2021 was sentenced to life in prison, was off duty when he murdered Thomas, although he was in his uniform and using his company van, the Wall Street Journal reports.
  • The jury awarded Thomas’s family $375 million in compensatory damages, of which Charter is responsible for 90%. 
  • CHTR’s net cash flow from operating activities totaled $3.65 billion as of Q1. It held $2.4 billion in cash and equivalents.
  • Price Action: CHTR shares closed higher by 0.01% at $479.01 on Tuesday.
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