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Do you think forging your customer’s name to your contract is a good idea?  Employer ordered to pay $1.147 billion for employee murdering customer
October 8 2022
Do you think forging your customer’s name to your contract is a good idea?   Employer ordered to pay $1.147 billion for employee murdering customer
          Shouldn’t take you too long to figure this one out.  We know that it’s essential to get a properly drafted alarm contract signed BEFORE you do any work.  Getting the contract signed by the customer AFTER the work is done is risky only because the customer may not sign the agreement.  That would be the same as doing the job without a contract.  A self-help solution of forging your customer’s name to the contract is not a good idea, to say the least; it’s criminal and your criminality will only be compounded when you try to use the forged contract in court. 
          Some of you know you have salespeople prone to taking a short-cut getting the contract signed.  When multiple customers make the same claim that they didn’t sign the contract you need to investigate.  This, by the way, is one reason I strongly suggest using the Disclaimer Notice with the All in One contracts.  It presents a second opportunity where the customer is required to sign a document, in the case of the Disclaimer Notice it’s an acknowledgement of limited services, not a contract.
          Below is a news article about the Texas employee who killed a customer.  The customer’s family sued the employer, Charter Spectrum.  I previously reported on this case, but the jury just made a monetary award; a whopping $1.147 billion dollars. 
          Juries are commonly known to be unpredictable and often generous with other people’s money when rendering an award.  This jury originally awarded 7 billion which the judge reduced.  What helped the jury reach this award [clearly excessive in my view] is difficult to pinpoint with certainty, but it is telling that the two reporters focused on two interesting issues raised during the case:
  *  The company billed the family for the service call and even sent the customer to a collection agency.
  *  The company came up with a Service Contract [that had an arbitration clause and limitation of liability language – which may not have helped in this case anyway] and it was determined the contract was forged by the company; the customer never signed it.  [I don’t know how that was established].
          So there are few take-a-ways here.

1.      Be careful with your hiring practices and keep an eye on your employees
2.      Do not forge your customer’s name to a contract
3.      Do not use collection agencies  [K&K’s collection department, which you should be using if you use the Standard Form Agreements, is comprised of lawyers and paralegals trained to weed out cases that should not be pursued – this case would have been stopped in its tracks before it got started]

Here is the article.  Thanks to Mitch Reitman for sending it over:
Cable company Charter Spectrum has been ordered by a judge to pay $1.147 billion to the family of an 83-year-old woman killed by one of its cable technicians, according to a news release from the family’s attorney. The cable company in July was found by a Dallas County jury liable in part for the robbery and killing of 83-year-old Betty Thomas in her Irving home by Charter Spectrum employee Roy Holden Jr. Jurors at the time awarded the family with upwards of $7 billion in damages. Dallas County Court at Law Judge Juan Renteria set the final amount the family is owed at $1.147 billion on Monday. That money will be divided among Thomas’ adult children, according to the final judgment.
          Charter Spectrum had previously said it intends to appeal the decision. Attorneys for Thomas’ family said in the news release that trial testimony showed Charter Spectrum ignored red flags regarding Holden from his first day on the job until the day he killed Thomas.
          Holden last year pleaded guilty to Thomas’ murder and was sentenced to life in prison. One day in December 2019, Holden made a service call at Thomas’ home. He returned the next day, in his Spectrum uniform and driving his Spectrum van, to rob Thomas. “So I had stopped there because I was broke,” Holden told Irving detectives, according to court documents. “I was hungry.”
          During the holdup, Holden stabbed Thomas multiple times on her neck and forearm, leaving her body on the living room floor in front of a television. Holden later told Irving detectives that he had used his Charter Spectrum knife and work gloves when he killed the woman. During the civil trial, testimony noted that Holden made multiple outcries to supervisors about significant personal and financial issues having to do with a divorce that left him no money, even crying at a meeting. He then began scamming elderly female Spectrum customers, stealing their credit cards and checks, according to testimony.
          Thomas’ family later received a $58 charge for Holden’s service call, and the bills continued to come after the murder and eventually they were sent to a collection agency, according to testimony. “We are grateful that, after careful consideration and review of the law and trial record, the Court entered judgment ordering Charter to pay more than $1 billion in total damages to the victim’s family,” the family’s attorney, Chris Hamilton of Dallas-based Hamilton Wingo, said in a news release. “The final judgment includes findings that Charter further committed felony forgery in causing harm to the plaintiffs, which properly eliminates the cap on punitive damages under Texas law.” Jurors found that Charter Spectrum forged a service agreement after Thomas’ death, and claimed Thomas had agreed to it, in an attempt to force the suit into arbitration, the family’s attorneys said in the release. In the case had gone to arbitration, the results would have been secret and the damages would have been limited to less than $200, the release said.
          “The victim’s family voluntarily ‘remitted’ the initial $7 billion punitive damages award to an amount equal to two times the compensatory damages in requesting entry of judgment,” Hamilton said. “This conservative damages multiplier will make the judgment exceedingly unlikely to be overturned on appeal given the criminal forgery findings against Charter and established Supreme Court precedent.”
Fort Worth Star-Telegram by James Hartley and Domingo Ramirez Jr  10/1/22

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Ken Kirschenbaum,Esq
Kirschenbaum & Kirschenbaum PC
Attorneys at Law
200 Garden City Plaza
Garden City, NY 11530
516 747 6700 x 301