Richter reduces Spectrum murder damage to $1.1 billion • The Register

A Dallas judge has reduced the amount Charter Communications must pay to the family of a subscriber who was murdered by one of its Spectrum cable technicians.

Despite the cut, the court still holds that the American broadband giant’s negligence was a factor in the killing.

Last year, Spectrum technician Roy Holden Jr admitted that he murdered 83-year-old Betty Thomas, a charter customer, in her own home in 2019 with a charter-issued knife and gloves. The day before the murder, he had turned up for a repair as requested and returned unannounced the next day in a van he was able to pick up from a charter site, even though it wasn’t supposed to be working.

It was said that he killed the grandmother after she caught him going through her purse looking for bank cards to steal. Holden was sentenced to life imprisonment.

In July of this year a jury decided Charter owes Thomas’s family $7.3 billion in damages and other costs for negligently allowing Holden to use a company car that fateful day and for failing to notice various red flags, such as telling about his had lied about his professional past and seemed unstable at work.

Judge Juan Renteria verdict on Monday adjusts that amount to approximately $1.1 billion to split between Thomas’ four children and their estate. The original $337 million in damages remained unchanged, but Judge Renteria reduced the total punitive damages to $750 million to punish Charter.

Judge Renteria said Charter had already “voluntarily paid a substantial amount of exemplary damages.” Also, the ratio of compensatory to punitive damages in the jury’s original verdict was far greater than the cap imposed in 2003 State Farm vs. Campbell US Supreme Court decision limiting punitive damages to less than 10 times the punitive penalty.

The reduction in the penalty does not stop Charter’s appeal aimed at overturning damages against it, a spokesman said The registry.

Charter denies any wrongdoing and reiterates an earlier statement that “Responsibility for this horrible act rests solely with Mr Holden who was off duty and we are grateful he is serving life in prison. While we respect the jury and the justice system, we strongly disagree with the verdict and will be appealing.”

Charter isn’t on the hook for every dollar of damages. Holden is officially responsible for $37.5 million, in addition to Charter’s $337 million. With Holden serving life in prison, it’s likely his share of the damages will also fall on Charter: In his ruling, Judge Renteria said Holden’s portion of the payout can be set off “against either Roy James Holden or Charter Communications.” ® Richter reduces Spectrum murder damage to $1.1 billion • The Register

Laura Coffey

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