Charter Skates on $7 Billion Civil Verdict in Murder of Texas Grandmother, Won't Pay a Dime
Cable giant, armed with $6.1 billion of free cash flow to help it appeal forever, reduces the latest settlement offer to fit within its insurance coverage
Charter Communications will end up paying only a tiny fraction of a $7 billion civil verdict levied against it last summer after a jury determined that the cable company was 90% responsible for the stabbing death of an Irving, Texas grandmother by a cable technician.
A 10-K filing (opens in new tab) rendered by Charter on Friday revealed that after the plaintiffs agreed to settle the matter for $268 million, Charter ultimately settled for a sum "substantially less than" that reduced judgement. Charter didn't reveal what that total was.
"The damages are within Charter's insurance coverage and shouldn't cost Charter anything," New Street Research analyst Jonathan Chaplin wrote in an investor note. "This settlement should reduce any overhang there might have been on the stock due to the lawsuit."
Charter said during its fourth-quarter earnings report last week that it generated $6.1 billion in free cash flow in 2022, certainly enough for the company to battle an appeals process into the indefinite future.
The settlement comes after Charter technician Roy Holden was convicted of the December 2019 stabbing death of 83-year-old Charter customer Betty Thomas amid a botched robbery attempt.
The plaintiffs, led by the deceased's adult children, were able to convince a jury that Charter performed a shoddy background check of Holden and ignored obvious signs of the his financial and emotional distress. The plaintiffs also claimed that Charter interfered with the investigation.
Following the $7 billion verdict against it in July, however, Charter released this statement: “The law in Texas and the facts presented at trial clearly show this crime was not foreseeable — and the plaintiffs’ claims of wrongdoing by Charter are categorically false. 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.”
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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!