HARTFORD, Conn. –
Infowars host Alex Jones and his company were ordered by a judge to pay an additional $473 million for promoting false conspiracy theories about the Sandy Hook school massacre, bringing the total Judgment against him in the case of the victim’s family amounted to a staggering US$1.44 billion.
Connecticut Judge Barbara Bellis imposed punitive damages on the Infowars server and the Free Speech System. Jones repeatedly told his millions of followers that the massacre that killed 20 first-graders and six educators was orchestrated by “crisis actors” to enact more gun control.
“The record clearly supports the plaintiffs’ argument that the defendants’ conduct was intentional and malicious, and certainly harmful due to their infrastructure, ability to spread content, and large audiences. fake including pagans,” the judge wrote in the 45-page ruling.
Christopher Mattei, the attorney for the Sandy Hook family, said he hopes the award sends a message to conspiracy theorists who profit from lies.
“The court recognized the ‘willful, malicious … and cruel’ conduct of Mr Jones and his business organisations,” Mattei said in a statement.
On his show Thursday, Jones called the award “ridiculous” and a “joke” and said he had little money to pay the damages.
“Well, of course I’m laughing at it,” he said. “It would be like if you sent me a billion dollar bill in the mail. Oh man, we’ve got you. It’s all psychological. It’s all just the Wizard of Oz. .. when they know full well that bankruptcy is going to happen. and all the rest of it, that it will show what I have and that’s it, and I have almost nothing.”
Eight relatives of the victim and FBI agents testified during the month-long trial about years of intimidation and harassment by people who denied the shooting had occurred. Strangers showed up at some of their houses and confronted some of them in public. People throw abusive comments at them on social media and in emails. Some received death and rape threats.
Six jurors ordered Jones to pay $965 million to compensate 15 plaintiffs for libel, mental distress, and violations of the Connecticut Unfair Trade Practices Act.
Jones, who lives and works in Austin, Texas, considered the trial unfair and an attack on freedom of expression. He said he would appeal the rulings. He has also said that he doesn’t have the money to pay such hefty sentences, because he has less than USUS$2 million to his name – which contradicts testimony at a trial. same in Texas. Meanwhile, Free Speech Systems is seeking bankruptcy protection.
Jones said Thursday that he only has “a few hundred thousand dollars” in his savings account.
Jones’ attorney, Norm Pattis, wrote in a text message to the AP news agency, “To paraphrase Karl Marx, this latest ruling is a farce. It makes our appeals work a breeze. much easier.”
Bellis found Jones and Infowars’ parent company to be liable without trial last year, as a result of what she called his repeated failure to deliver multiple documents. main and other records for the plaintiff. After an unusual “default” ruling, the jury is only tasked with deciding the amount of damages and whether punitive damages are warranted.
Jones said he turned over thousands of documents and the default ruling stripped him of his right to make a defense against the lawsuit.
The punitive damages include approximately US$323 million for plaintiffs’ attorneys’ fees and costs and US$150 million for Unfair Trade Practices Act violations.
In Connecticut, punitive damages for defamation and emotional distress are usually limited to the plaintiff’s legal fees. Plaintiffs’ attorneys for Sandy Hook will receive one-third of the $965 million in damages under a lien settlement.
But there is no limit to punitive damages for Unfair Trade Practices Act violations. The plaintiffs did not ask for a specific amount of punitive damages, but by a hypothetical calculation, they say that damages could be around US$2.75 trillion by law.
In a similar trial in Texas in 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 in that trial that Jones and the Free Speech System had a combined net worth of $270 million.
Jones hawks nutritional supplements, survival gear and other products on his show, which airs on the Infowars website and dozens of radio stations. Evidence at the Connecticut trial showed his sales spiked around the time he spoke about the Sandy Hook shooting, prompting plaintiffs’ attorneys to say he was profiting from the tragedy.
In documents recently filed for the bankruptcy of Free Speech Systems in Texas, the budget for the company between October 29 and November 25 estimated product sales to total 2.5 million. US dollars, while operating costs are around 740,000 US dollars. Jones’ salary is listed at USUS $20,000 biweekly.
On Wednesday, Bellis, the Connecticut judge, ordered Jones not to move any of his assets out of the country, as the families sought to attach his assets to secure funds for the families. damages. Jones, meanwhile, asked the judge to order a new trial or at least reduce the damages to a “nominal” amount.
The third and final trial of Jones’ hoax claims is expected to begin sometime later this year in Texas. As in Connecticut, Jones was liable for damages without trial in both cases in Texas because he did not turn over many records to the plaintiff.