This week, a Texas jury awarded $7 billion in punitive damages to Charter Communications in response to a lawsuit filed by the family of Betty Jo McClain Thomas, an 83-year-old woman who was fatally stabbed by one of its employees in December 2019. The lawsuit was brought by the family of Betty Jo McClain Thomas. The $375 million in compensatory damages that the jury determined in June are in addition to the $7 billion.
The reason for the verdict’s extraordinary amount extends well beyond the horrible act that was committed. It also covers attempts to fabricate a document proving Thomas consented to compulsory arbitration that would have restricted possible damages to the sum of her most recent bill, as well as the company’s procedures and reactions to earlier theft cases.
The family’s attorneys raised a number of discrepancies with the document during the trial. It had dates on it that clashed with the periods it was allegedly removed from Charter system, and Thomas’ name should have been where the blank appeared. A separate set of conditions without the arbitration provision was submitted by the company’s attorneys in other instances.