A Texas jury on Friday ordered far-right conspiracy theorist Alex Jones to pay $45.2mn in punitive damages in a lawsuit introduced by the dad and mom of a kid who was killed within the 2012 Sandy Hook college taking pictures.
The extra damages got here a day after the identical jury awarded $4.1mn in compensatory damages to Scarlett Lewis and Neil Heslin, and brings the whole quantity to be paid to just about $50mn, though that might be decreased as Texas state legislation caps non-economic damages.
Jones, a far-right media firebrand, has courted controversy for years on InfoWars, his web site and radio present. The Sandy Hook instances pose the primary vital monetary menace to Jones and his firm — which collectively are estimated to be value as a lot as $270mn, in response to an professional witness who testified on behalf of the dad and mom.
Wesley Ball, a lawyer for the dad and mom, on Friday urged jurors to “ship a message” with their punitive damages award: “Cease Alex Jones, cease the monetisation of misinformation and lies.”
“I ask that along with your verdict you not solely take Alex Jones’s platform that he talks about away,” Ball added. “I ask that you simply make sure he can’t rebuild that platform.”
Lewis and Heslin, whose 6-year-old son Jesse Lewis was killed at Sandy Hook, had requested as a lot as $150mn in damages for emotional torment, saying their lives had been made a “dwelling hell” by strangers who despatched them dying threats and who wrongly believed the couple faked their baby’s dying based mostly on Jones’s feedback.
They sued Jones for falsely claiming the 2012 bloodbath at Sandy Hook Elementary Faculty, the place 20 youngsters and 6 adults had been killed, was a hoax staged to justify gun management.
Throughout his testimony, Jones disowned false claims his firms aired concerning the US’s deadliest college taking pictures, saying it was “100 per cent actual” and never a “false flag” operation. He additionally expressed regret for “unintentionally” hurting individuals’s emotions.
Jones faces two extra trials associated to his feedback about Sandy Hook. One is being introduced in Connecticut by the households of eight victims, and the opposite may even be in Texas.
Jones, whose content material has been banned from huge social media platforms for hate speech, instructions a big viewers of greater than 8mn month-to-month visits, in response to information firm Similarweb.
Final week, Jones’s Free Speech Methods, the mother or father of InfoWars, filed for chapter safety in a transfer probably meant to restrict his monetary publicity.
In the course of the proceedings, a lawyer for the plaintiffs disclosed that Jones’s authorized workforce had inadvertently shared two years’ value of messages from his cellphone, including that he had acquired requests to share the messages with numerous authorities, together with the congressional committee investigating the January 6, 2021 assault on the US Capitol.
On Friday, Decide Maya Guerra Gamble stated she wouldn’t stop the plaintiffs’ legal professionals from sharing the messages with legislation enforcement or the January 6 congressional committee.
Extra reporting by Alex Barker