Charter Spectrum receives $7 billion in punitive damages in 2019 murder

Charter Spectrum receives $7 billion in punitive damages in 2019 murder
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A Texas jury found Charter Communications responsible $7 billion in punitive damages this week as a result of a lawsuit Family of 83-year-old Betty Jo McClain Thomas, who was stabbed to death by one of her employees in December 2019. $7 billion, in addition to the $375 million compensation the jury determined in June.

The explanation behind the staggering figure of the verdict goes far beyond the horrific crime committed. It also includes an attempt to issue a document outlining the company’s policies and responses to previous thefts, and Thomas’ acceptance of mandatory arbitration that could result in limited potential damages in the amount of his final invoice.

Evidence submitted by statute to compel arbitration

Evidence submitted by statute to compel arbitration.
Image: Dallas County, Texas courts portal

The jury members allotted $7 billion in exemplary damages for gross negligence, while deciding that Charter sought to force the case into arbitration using false documents from internet service provider Spectrum. Charter attempted to force arbitration using a terms of service document that Thomas claimed to have accepted when signing up for the service, and was supposedly retrieved from the database.

During the trial, the family’s lawyers pointed out a number of inconsistencies in the document. These include dates that don’t match the times they were allegedly pulled from Charter’s system, and a blank dot where Thomas’ name should be. In other cases, the company’s lawyers submitted a different set of terms without arbitration clauses.

While the documents were supposed to represent evidence from Charter’s live database, they showed an address indicating that the file was indeed stored on someone’s personal computer. At the bottom it shows the file address that says “localhost:62220/VewContracts.aspx”.

Localhost is a loopback address that represents and means that the request has not left the computer from which it was initiated or has never accessed any other network or database.

AND America Today The report earlier this month outlines the murder committed by a Spectrum cable repairman who returned to Thomas’ home the day after he was sent on a service call to fix the fax machine. Lawyers representing Thomas’ family argued in court that he learned that technician Roy James Holden had reported ongoing problems with the woman’s service, and then used the company’s key card to use one of her vans to drive him to her home, where they caught Thomas trying to steal. credit cards and it killed him.

Charter Spectrum invoice sent to Betty Thomas in 2020

Charter Spectrum invoice sent to Betty Thomas in 2020

On January 3, 2020, Charter sent Thomas an overdue invoice with a one-time fee of $58.94 for the service call.

The jury found Charter a proximate cause in Thomas’ death, meaning the company found an act or omission that “could have predicted injury or similar injury to a person using ordinary care” and assigned him 90 percent of the time. responsibility. Plaintiff’s lawyers pointed out that Charter had not done a background check to show that Holden had lied about his work history, and presented evidence that he had repeatedly sought help from auditors and management because of his personal problems and told them he had at one point considered it. He was a Dallas Cowboys player.

Holden confessed to committing the murder and was sentenced to life in prison in April 2021.

In addition, lawyers for Thomas’ family presented evidence that Charter Spectrum technicians were responsible for more than 2,500 thefts against customers a few years before the murder, and the company refused to investigate or report them to the police. The court ordered an extortion for Holden based on jury instructions based on Charter’s destruction of evidence that needed to be preserved, including video surveillance and tracking information, and found Charter guilty of contempt for failing to present other documents.

In a statement released following the decision, Charter spokesperson Cameron Blanchard said:

Our hearts go out for the lady. Thomas’ family after this senseless and tragic crime. Responsibility for this terrible act rests solely with Mr. Smith. We are grateful that Holden, who is off duty, and is in prison for life. While we respect the jury and the justice system, we strongly disagree with the verdict and will appeal.

The law in Texas and the facts presented at the trial make it clear that this crime was unpredictable – and the plaintiffs’ allegations of Charter’s misconduct are absolutely false. We are committed to the safety of all of our customers and have taken the necessary steps, including a thorough pre-employment criminal background check that shows no arrests, convictions or other criminal behavior. Nor Mr. Holden’s performance after being hired demonstrates that he can handle the offense he has committed, including over 1,000 completed service calls, with zero customer complaints about his behavior.

Friday morning, Charter Announced earnings results for the second quarter of 2022reports $13.6 billion in revenue “primarily driven by growth in residential, mobile and commercial revenues.” The press release didn’t mention the lawsuit or the verdict, and a breakdown of its earnings called for it. Released in Seeker Alpha It shows that analysts do not ask managers about this. AND 10-Q document It was mentioned in the Contingency section, filed with the SEC.

The Company has taken into account various factors such as the legal and factual circumstances of the case, the minutes of the hearing, the decisions of the jury, the state of the proceedings, the applicable law, the opinions of the legal counsel, and the decisions of the court before and during the trial. , along with future post-trial motions by the parties in determining the various grounds for appeal that the company expects to vigorously pursue, and the probability of a successful appeal. Based on these factors, the Company concludes that a loss resulting from this lawsuit is unlikely and not reasonably predictable. Therefore, the Company did not accrue any liability for the adverse decision in its financial statements dated 30 June 2022.

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