CVN screenshot of plaintiff attorney Ray Khirallah delivering his opening statement
Dallas, TX - A Texas state court jury heard opening statements Wednesday in a lawsuit accusing cable company Charter Communications of negligently hiring a field service technician that murdered an 83-year-old woman in her home.
The family of Betty Thomas sued Charter, which operates as Spectrum, after technician Roy James Holden murdered her in 2019. The family accuses the company of failing to perform an adequate background check on Holden, who is currently serving life in prison, but the company denies any liability for Thomas’ death and argues Holden acted entirely on his own.
The full trial, taking place in Dallas County court, is being webcast gavel-to-gavel by Courtroom View Network.
During his opening statement on behalf of Thomas’ family, attorney Ray Khirallah of Hamilton Wingo LLP described to jurors how Holden first arrived at Thomas’ house to help troubleshoot an issue with her Spectrum equipment. He returned the next day while not on duty but wearing his Spectrum uniform and driving his Spectrum van to rob Thomas, but the encounter turned deadly.
Khirallah told jurors that a competent background check would have revealed Holden largely fabricated his previous employment history, and that Charter adopted a company-wide policy of skirting background checks in the wake of a hiring surge following their acquisition of Time Warner Cable.
Khirallah argued that requests from Holden to supervisors for increased hours and to borrow money should have raised immediate red flags, especially in an industry where theft by home service technicians is common.
“The family brings this suit to make sure this never happens again,” he said said, according to CVN’s webcast of the trial.
Representing Charter, attorney Edward Davis of Lewis Brisbois Bisgaard & Smith LLP told jurors Holden sought more work to take his mind off an ongoing divorce, and that Holden alone is responsible for Thomas’ death.
CVN screenshot of defense attorney Edward Davis delivering his opening statement
“We are asking you to place 100% of the blame on Roy Holden,” Davis said.
David told jurors that Holden a positive record of customer reviews, and that the company should not be held liable for actions Holden took while off duty and without the awareness or assistance of anyone at the company.
The trial before Judge Juan Renteria is expected to take at least two weeks to complete, and CVN will remain present for the duration of the proceedings.
The case is captioned Goff v. Charter Communications Inc., et al., case number CC-20-01579-E in Dallas County Court.
E-mail David Siegel at firstname.lastname@example.org