A Texas jury on Friday ordered far-right conspiracy theorist Alex Jones to pay $45.2 million in punitive damages in a trial brought by the parents of a child killed in the 2012 Sandy Hook school shooting.
The additional damages came a day after the same jury awarded $4.1mn in compensatory damages to Scarlett Lewis and Neil Heslin, and brings the total amount to be paid to approximately $50mn, although this is less than Texas state law. which can be done to limit the non-economic loss. ,
A far-right media firebrand, Jones has courted controversy over the years at InfoWars, his website, and radio shows. The Sandy Hook cases pose the first significant financial threat to Jones and his company—which together are estimated to be worth as much as $270 million, according to an expert witness who testified on behalf of the parents.
Parents’ attorney Wesley Ball on Friday urged jurors to “send a message” with their punitive damages award: “Stop Alex Jones, stop monetizing misinformation and lies.”
“I ask that with your decision you not only take the stage of Alex Jones, who he talks about,” Ball said. “I ask that you make sure he can’t rebuild that stage.”
Lewis and Heslin, whose 6-year-old son Jesse Lewis was killed at Sandy Hook, have requested $150 million in damages for emotional pain, saying their lives were made a “living hell” by strangers. who had threatened them with death and who wrongly believed that the couple pretended to be the death of their child based on Jones’ comments.
He sued Jones for falsely claiming the 2012 massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School, where 20 children and six adults were killed, was a hoax to justify gun control.
During his testimony, Jones dismissed false claims that his companies circulated about America’s deadliest school shooting, saying it was “100 percent real” and not a “false flag” operation. He also expressed regret for hurting people’s sentiments “unintentionally”.
Jones faces two more trials related to his comments about Sandy Hook. One is being brought to Connecticut by the families of eight victims, and the other will also be in Texas.
Jones, whose content has been banned from major social media platforms for hate speech, commands more than 8 million monthly visits, according to data company SimilarWeb.
Last week, Jones’ Free Speech Systems, the parent of InfoWars, filed for bankruptcy protection in a move potentially meant to limit his financial exposure.
During the proceedings, a lawyer for the plaintiffs disclosed that Jones’ legal team had inadvertently shared two years’ worth of messages from his phone, adding that he had received requests to share the messages with various authorities, including The Congress Committee probing January 6 was also involved. Attack on the US Capitol in 2021.
On Friday, Judge Maya Guerra Gamble said she would not prevent plaintiffs’ attorneys from sharing messages with law enforcement or a January 6 congressional committee.
Additional reporting by Alex Barker