Charter Hit with $337.5M Compensatory Damages Verdict for Murder Committed by Installer

Charter Communications
(Image credit: Charter Communications)

A Dallas jury found Charter Communications grossly negligent in the December 2019 murder of an 83-year-old customer by one of it service technicians, hitting the cable operator with a $337.5 million compensatory damages verdict.

Following an 11-day trial, the jury determined that Charter was 90% responsible for the stabbing death of Betty Thomas, an Irving, Texas grandmother, at the hands of Roy Holden, who is currently serving a life sentence after pleading guilty to her murder.

Also: Charter Goes to Civil Trial Over Customer Murdered by Installer

Punitive damages, which will be announced Monday, could result in a far larger legal burden for Charter.

According to the complaint, brought by the victim's family, Charter got rid of an employee screening program put in place by Time Warner Cable when Charter purchased the MSO in 2016.

The plaintiffs say a cursory look at Holden's background would have revealed his history of firings for forging documents and harassing coworkers.

Further, the plaintiffs argued that Charter ignored obvious cries for help from the convicted killer, who was fresh off a divorce and distraught over his financial situation. In his desperation, he turned to robbing elderly Charter employees he came in contact with through his job, plaintiffs say.

The suit also claims that Charter ignored pleas from police and attorneys to preserve evidence. 

Charter emailed the this statement to Next TV: “Our hearts go out to Mrs. Thomas’ family in the wake of this senseless and tragic crime. The responsibility for this horrible act rests solely with Mr. Holden, and we are grateful he is in prison for life. While we respect the jury and the justice system, we strongly disagree with the verdict and plan to appeal. The law in Texas and the facts presented at trial clearly show this crime was not foreseeable: At Charter, we are committed to the safety of all our customers and took the necessary steps, including a thorough pre-employment criminal background check — which showed no arrests, convictions or other criminal behavior. Nor did anything in Mr. Holden’s performance after he was hired suggest he was capable of the crime he committed, including more than 1,000 completed service calls with zero customer complaints about his behavior.” ■

Daniel Frankel

Daniel Frankel is the managing editor of Next TV, an internet publishing vertical focused on the business of video streaming. A Los Angeles-based writer and editor who has covered the media and technology industries for more than two decades, Daniel has worked on staff for publications including E! Online, Electronic Media, Mediaweek, Variety, paidContent and GigaOm. You can start living a healthier life with greater wealth and prosperity by following Daniel on Twitter today!