Alex Jones ordered to pay $45.2 million more for Sandy Hook lies

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — A Texas jury on Friday ordered conspiracy theorist Alex Jones to pay $45.2 million in punitive damages to the parents of children killed in the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre, arguing that he In addition to the $4.1 million he has to pay, he tormented them for years by claiming the deadliest school shooting in the country was a hoax.
The $49.3 million total is less than the $150 million sought by Neil Heslin and Scarlett Lewis.

Afterwards, Lewis said Jones was held accountable for not being in court to hear the verdict. rice field.

“He stood up to bully Adam Lanza and saved the lives of nine classmates,” Lewis said. “I hope I have done justice for that incredible bravery when I was able to stand up to Alex Jones, who is also a bully. I hope to encourage

It could be some time before plaintiffs recover anything. Andino Raynal, Jones’ lead attorney, said he would appeal to the judge and ask the court to significantly reduce the size of the sentence.

After the hearing, Reynal said it believed the punitive amount would be reduced to just $1.5 million.

“I think the verdict is too high. … Alex Jones is on the air today, it’s on the air tomorrow, it’s on the air next week. He will continue his work of holding power structures accountable.”

Jones’ corporate and personal assets may also be chopped up by other lawsuits and bankruptcies. Another defamation lawsuit against Jones by the Sandy Hook family is set to begin pretrial hearing in the same Austin courthouse on Sept. 14. He faces yet another defamation lawsuit in Connecticut.

Plaintiffs’ attorney Mark Bankston said he believed he could challenge any attempt to reduce damages. But even with the greatly reduced prize money, it’s just as important to get a large bankruptcy court verdict for the family to claim against Jones’ property and company.

Jones testified this week that prizes over $2 million would “sink”. Infowars’ Austin-based parent company, his company Free Speech Systems, filed for bankruptcy protection in the first week of the trial.

Punitive damages are aimed at punishing defendants for particularly heinous acts beyond monetary compensation given to individuals they have harmed. A harsh and punitive award is both a chance for jurors to send out a wider social message and a way to deter others from doing the same abomination in the future.

Barry Covert, a Buffalo, N.Y., attorney, a First Amendment attorney who had nothing to do with Jones’ case, said the total damages awarded amounted to “a staggering loss for Jones.” .

“For a total of $50 million, the jury sent a loud, loud message that this behavior was unacceptable,” Covert said. “Anyone who deliberately lies on a show like this, the jury will not tolerate it.”

Future jurors in other pending Sandy Hook trials could look at damages in this case as a benchmark, Covert said. is very likely to go out of business,” he said.

The family’s lawyers have asked the jury to impose financial penalties that would force Infowars to shut down.

Wesley Ball, the parents’ attorney, told jurors on Friday, “You have the ability to make sure this guy doesn’t do that again.” You are free to lie, you pay.

One economist testified that Jones and the company were worth up to $270 million.

Bernard Pettingill, who was hired by the plaintiff to investigate Jones’ net worth, records show that Jones withdrew $62 million for himself when the lawsuit against him was defaulted in 2021. .

“In my opinion, this number represents the net worth value,” Pettingill said. “He puts money in some bank account.”

But Jones’ attorneys said the client had already learned his lesson.

“You’ve already sent the message, the first ever message to talk show hosts, all talk show hosts, that their standards of care must change,” Raynal said.

Friday’s damages garnered accolades from the Federation of Teachers of America, which represents teachers at Sandy Hook.

“The pain of losing a child and seeing that tragedy that was denied for political reasons will never go away. But I’m glad Sandy Hook’s parents won justice. union president Randy Weingarten tweeted.

Attorneys for the Sandy Hook family suing Jones allege that he tried to hide evidence of his true wealth at various shell companies.

In his testimony, Jones was told by one of his business managers that his gross daily income from selling vitamin supplements and other products through his website was $800,000, making nearly $300 million a year. I was faced with a note outlining what would happen. Jones called it a record sales day.

Jones, who described the lawsuit as an attack on his First Amendment rights, admitted during the trial that the attack was “100% real” and that he was wrong for lying about it. Heslin and Lewis told jurors that an apology wasn’t enough and asked them to pay for the years of suffering Jones had caused them and the rest of the Sandy Hook family.

Her parents told jurors they had endured ten years of trauma. First was the murder of his son, followed by a shooting at his home, threats online and over the phone, and harassment by strangers on the street. He said the theory spread to his supporters through Infowars.

Forensic psychiatrists see parents suffering from “complex post-traumatic stress disorder” caused by ongoing trauma, similar to what soldiers in war and victims of child abuse may experience. I testified that there was

During the trial, Jones was his typically bombastic self, speaking of the conspiracy on the witness stand, at impromptu press conferences, and on his show. The judge scolded him and at one point said, “This is not your show.”

The trial attracted attention even outside of Austin.

By Friday, Bankston said, “a subpoena is on the desk” from the Jan. 6 committee. However, he said the data appeared to have been scraped in mid-2020, and that expectations should be “lowered” that the text on the riots might be revealed.

Bankston said there is also “law enforcement” interest in the phone data, but did not provide further details.

Last month, a House committee displayed graphic and violent text messages, played videos of right-wing figures, including Jones, and others vowed Jan. 6 would be the day to fight for Trump.
The commission first subpoenaed Jones in November to demand depositions and documents related to his efforts to spread misinformation about the 2020 Election and Attack Day rallies.

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