Texas Negligent Hiring Case Nets $7 Billion-Plus Award
Author: David B. Weisenfeld
August 1, 2022
A cable company has been ordered to pay more than $7 billion - that is not a typo - to the family of a Texas woman who was brutally murdered in her home by one of its employees.
The award underscores the importance of pre-employment screening as trial testimony reportedly revealed that the company, Charter Spectrum, hired the field technician without verifying his employment history and refused to correct repeated negligent safety practices.
The technician performed work at the victim's home in December 2019. He returned the next day in uniform and using the company's van, though he was off duty, and stabbed the 83-year-old woman to death.
According to the plaintiff's attorneys, a routine screening would have revealed that the technician lied about his work history. Had a screening been conducted, the attorneys' said it would have disqualified him from employment as the technician's history included firings for:
- Falsifying documents;
- Forgery; and
The technician also had been disciplined multiple times and allegedly had taken pictures of driver's licenses and credit cards at the homes of two other elderly female customers while working at Charter Spectrum.
In the days leading up to the murder, the technician allegedly mentioned having significant financial issues to his supervisor and broke down crying in a meeting, telling his supervisor he was not OK.
Nonetheless, the company continued to send him out on house calls. The victim reportedly caught the technician stealing credit cards from her purse.
A Dallas County jury awarded $337.5 million in compensatory damages in June and added $7 billion in punitive damages last week.
A company spokesman said in a written statement that this crime was not foreseeable, and that Charter Spectrum will appeal the verdict.