A Texas judge has ordered Charter Communications to pay $1.14 billion to the family of Betty Jo McClain Thomas, who was murdered by an off-duty technician employed by the company in 2019.
The damages awarded, voluntarily lowered by the family from $7 billion to the current amount, will be split between Thomas’ grandson William Goff and her children Cheryl Goff, Cindy Ringless, Charlotte Glover, and Charles Thomas.
“We are grateful that, after careful consideration and review of the law and trial record, the Court entered judgment ordering Charter to pay more than $1 billion in total damages to the victim’s family,” lead trial lawyer Chris Hamilton said.
Technician Roy Holden, who pleaded guilty to murder in April 2021, originally visited Thomas’ residence on Dec. 11, 2019, to perform repairs on her home-communications systems.
The next day, after Thomas called for further repairs, Holden showed up in uniform in a Spectrum van (Spectrum is owned by Charter Communications).
Holden, who was off-duty at that time, stabbed Thomas multiple times, stole her credit cards, and went on a spending spree.
Thomas’ family would sue Charter in 2020, alleging that the company failed to properly screen Holden, who was dealing with mental, financial, and emotional instability, before employing him.
Furthermore, the victim’s family alleged that Charter forged Thomas’ signature on a service agreement in an attempt to force the suit into arbitration.
“Jurors found that Charter Spectrum forged a service agreement, claiming Ms. Thomas agreed to it, after her death in an attempt to force the lawsuit into arbitration, where results are secret, and the damages would have been limited to less than $200,” according to a statement on the website of law firm Hamilton Wingo, which represented the family.
In a statement to CBS MoneyWatch, Charter Communications said that “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.”
The statement said the company’s hiring process included “a thorough pre-employment criminal background check — which showed no arrests, convictions or other criminal behavior.”
The company also told CBS MoneyWatch that it plans to appeal the decision.