A Texas judge has reduced the exemplary, or punitive, damages that Charter must pay in connection with the stabbing death of an elderly Charter customer by a Charter installer in the customer’s home. Earlier this year a jury said Charter should pay over $7 billion in punitive damages to the customer’s family, but according to news reports, the judge said the amount should be $1.15 billion.
The judge said his decision was based on “evidence introduced at trial, the verdict of the jury, the voluntary remittitur of the plaintiffs, the written and oral arguments of counsel, and the applicable law.”
The Charter employee, Roy James Holden Jr., was arrested and confessed to the 2019 crime, in which he stabbed the customer, Betty Jo McClain Thomas, and stole her credit cards. Holden had been to the woman’s home for a service call the previous day, then returned the following day in a van with Charter’s Spectrum brand on it while he was off duty.
In the initial phase of the trial in June 2022, the jury found that Charter had been grossly negligent in hiring Holden without looking into his employment history, which would have revealed that he had been fired for forgery, falsifying documents, and harassing another employee.
In a second phase of the trial in July, the jury awarded the $7 billion damages to Thomas’ family.
Charter told Law360 back in July that the responsibility for the crime rests solely with Holden and that the company would appeal the verdict. Monday’s judgment from Judge Juan Renteria at the Dallas County Court at Law #5 can be found at this link.