Conspiracy theorist Alex Jones and his company were ordered Thursday to pay an additional $473 million to the families of the victims and an FBI agent for calling 2012.A hoax, a. add to Released last month.
Connecticut Judge Barbara Bellis imposed punitive damages on the Infowars host and Free Speech Systems. Jones repeatedly told his millions of followers that the massacre in which 20 first graders and six teachers were killed was staged by “crisis actors” to enforce greater gun control.
Relatives of eight victims and an FBI agent testified during the month-long trial that they were being bullied and harassed for years by people who denied shooting. Strangers appeared in some of their homes and encountered some of them in public. People made derogatory remarks on him on social media and email. And some received death and rape threats.
Six jurors ordered Jones to pay $965 million to indemnify 15 plaintiffs for defamation, emotional distress and violations of Connecticut’s Unfair Trade Practices Act, which prohibits deceptive business practices and unfair competition.
Jones has dismissed the lawsuit as unfair and an attack on freedom of expression. He says he will appeal against the decision. He also says he doesn’t have the money to deliver such a major verdict, as he has less than $2 million to his name—which contradicts testimony at a similar trial in Texas. Meanwhile, the Free Speech System is seeking bankruptcy protection.
got bellisLast year without a trial resulted in what he called his repeated failures to hand over numerous financial documents and other records to plaintiffs. After the unusual “default” decision, the jury was tasked with deciding only on the amount of compensatory damages and whether punitive damages were warranted.
Jones says he turned over thousands of documents and that the default judgment deprived him of his right to present a defense against the lawsuit.
In Connecticut, punitive damages for defamation and emotional distress are usually limited to the plaintiff’s legal fees. Lawyers for Sandy Hook plaintiffs are to receive a third of the $965 million in compensatory damages under a retainer settlement — their legal fees totaling $322 million.
But there is no limit to the punitive damages for violation of the Unfair Trade Practices Act. The plaintiffs did not ask for a specific amount of punitive damages, but under a hypothetical calculation they said such damages under the unfair trade law could amount to about $2.75 trillion.
one inIn August, Jones was ordered to pay nearly $50 million to the parents of another child killed in the Sandy Hook shooting for calling the massacre a hoax. A forensic economist testified during that trial that Jones and Free Speech Systems had net worth of as much as $270 million.
The third and final trial on Jones’ bogus claims is expected to begin in Texas around the end of the year. As in Connecticut, Jones was found liable for damages without trial in both Texas cases because he failed to provide multiple records to plaintiffs.