In a rare verdict of its kind, the nation’s second-largest cable company has been found liable for a robbery and murder committed by a man who worked as an installer for the company. The company has been found 90 percent responsible, to the tune of around $7 billion.
The murder took place in December 2019, when the Charter Spectrum employee, Roy Holden, went to an eight-three-year-old customer’s home in his company truck on the day after a service call. When the woman caught Holden trying to steal her credit cards, he fatally stabbed her. Holden pled guilty and was sentenced to life in prison.
The company, along with Holden himself, was sued by the woman's family. According to a press release by Hamilton Wingo, the plaintiffs’ law firm, Charter Spectrum disregarded warnings from the killer that he was troubled and even forged documents. Furthermore, the family later received a bill for the services rendered by the company, during the service call that resulted in the murder.
According to Law & Crime, the $7 billion is about eight percent of the company’s current market capitalization. The company had been ordered to pay $337.5 million in compensatory damages in June.
“This was a shocking breach of faith by a company that sends workers inside millions of homes every year,” lawyer Chris Hamilton of Dallas-based Hamilton Wingo, who argued the case in court, said in the release. “The jury, in this case, was thoughtful and attentive to the evidence. This verdict justly reflects the extensive evidence regarding the nature of the harm caused by Charter Spectrum's gross negligence and reckless misconduct. For the safety of the American public, we can only hope that Charter Spectrum and its shareholders are listening.”
“Charter Spectrum had too many chances to prevent this tragedy, and the company showed a complete disregard for the safety of its customers. Worse, the trial reveals how vulnerable Charter Spectrum customers remain today at the hands of a company that appears not to care about public safety,” attorney Ray Khirallah, also of that firm, said in the statement. “This verdict fairly reflects the extent of the evidence against Charter Spectrum and the dangerous nature of the company’s serious misconduct and violations of the law.”
“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,” the spokesman said. “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.”
Stephen Silver, a technology writer for The National Interest, is a journalist, essayist and film critic, who is also a contributor to The Philadelphia Inquirer, Philly Voice, Philadelphia Weekly, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Living Life Fearless, Backstage magazine, Broad Street Review and Splice Today. The co-founder of the Philadelphia Film Critics Circle, Stephen lives in suburban Philadelphia with his wife and two sons. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenSilver.