A Texas family has been awarded $1.14 billion in damages against Charter Communications in a lawsuit over the fatal stabbing of their elderly mother and grandmother nearly three years ago.
Dallas County Judge Juan Renteria ordered A charter to pay the family of Betty Jo McClain Thomas in a final judgment released Monday. The settlement came after former Spectrum cable technician Roy Holden Jr. admitted to killing Thomas, 83, at her home in December 2019.
The Texas jury also found that Charter “knowingly and willfully committed forgery with intent to defraud or injure” the plaintiffs by forging Thomas’s signature on an agreement to compel arbitration after she had already died.
The award will be shared between Thomas’ grandson William Goff and her children Charles Thomas, Charlotte Glover, Cheryl Goff and Cindy Ringless.
“We are grateful that, after careful consideration and review of the law and the trial record, the court entered a judgment ordering Charter to pay more than $1 billion in total damages to the victim’s family,” said the family’s attorney Chris Hamilton of the Hamilton Wing. in statement on the website of the law office.
Judge Renteria initially awarded the Thomas family more than $7 billion in damages, but the family agreed to reduce that amount to $1.14 billion.
Thomas’ family submitted a lawsuit against Charter Communications, which owns Spectrum, in 2020. The lawsuit claimed Charter sent Holden to Thomas’ home to fix a problem with its Spectrum service. When Thomas called Charter the next day for more repairs, Holden, who was off-duty, arrived in a Spectrum van, stabbed Thomas multiple times and then stole her credit cards before going on a spending spree, the lawsuit alleges.
Holden pleaded guilty during Thomas’ family’s trial last year and is serving a life sentence.
Thomas’ family argued in court earlier this year that Charter did not properly screen Holden before hiring him and that Holden was going through a divorce, experienced frequent insomnia and crying and was financially unstable while working for Charter. The jury sided with Thomas’ family.
Charter plans to appeal the decision, the company said in a statement to CBS MoneyWatch. The Connecticut-based cable provider said that while it respected the jury’s decision, “responsibility for this horrific act rests solely with Mr. Holden, who was off duty, and we are grateful that he is in prison for life.”
Charter said it took all necessary steps to vet Holden prior to his employment, “including a thorough pre-employment criminal background check — which showed no arrests, convictions or other criminal conduct.” There was no evidence from Mr. Holden’s “performance after he was hired to indicate that he was capable of the crime he committed, including more than 1,000 service calls made with no customer complaints about his behavior,” Charter said.