A Texas jury on Friday ordered Alex Jones to pay $45.2 million in punitive damages to the parents of the victims of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, a day after deciding that the Infowars host must pay them $4.1 million in compensatory damages for their suffering. related to his lies about it. the 2012 massacre.
Wesley Ball, attorney for Scarlett Lewis and Neil Heslin, whose 6-year-old son, Jesse, was killed in the attack in Newtown, Connecticut, asked the jury to award them $149.5 million in addition to the $150 million they were seeking. first of all to achieve.
Ball argued that just such a large sum would be enough to “take the bullhorn” off Jones.
“I ask, with your judgment, that you not only take down the Alex Jones platform that he’s talking about. I ask that you make sure that he can’t rebuild the platform. That’s what’s important,” he said. “That is punishment, that is prohibition.”
Jones’ attorney Andino Reynal told jurors that the $4.1 million judgment had already sent a message to Jones and other talk show hosts that “their standard of care has to be different.” He also argued that a substantial award would only discourage those who question “government officials who dropped the ball” from doing so.
Reynal contested the decision, arguing that the verdict did not comply with Texas law, which caps the actual award at $750,000 per plaintiff. The judge accepted the objection and told him that the law implies that we do not trust our juries in the state.
Punitive damages are intended to punish a person for extremely harmful conduct.
The jury’s decision followed expert testimony from forensic economist Bernard Pettingill whose testimony was intended to give jurors a picture of how much money Jones has and, therefore, how much it would take to punish him for his behavior. Pettingill estimated Jones and his companies were worth between $135 million and $270 million – an amount disputed by his defense team – and said Jones and his companies made more money after being “delisted” by several media outlets social in 2018. trial that his companies suffered losses since it was removed from the sites.
Pettingill also testified that Jones began paying $11,000 a day into a shell company he controls after he was found liable in a default judgment in the Sandy Hook case.
“He’s a very successful man,” he said. “He spread hate speech and some misinformation but he made a lot of money and he made money from that.”
The jury in this case was only asked to decide whether Jones, who the judge had already found liable for failing to provide critical evidence before the trial began, must also pay Jesse’s parents for the emotional distress and reputational damage caused with him. his false claims.
The trial included testimony from both parents and Jones, who characterized the lawsuit as an attack on his First Amendment rights. After the rally, he confirmed that it was done and that crisis activists were included. He later admitted it happened.
Heslin and Lewis said Tuesday that Jones’ lies left them in fear for their lives and added to their grief.
“It’s unbearable to have a 6-year-old son shot in front of his classroom and you don’t think you’re going to live and then someone on top of that would keep a lie that it was a hoax, that it was. false flag,” Lewis said, speaking directly to Jones during her testimony. “I don’t think you understand the fear that you are perpetuating, not only for the victim’s family but for our family, our friends and any survivor from that school.”
The focus of the trial is a 2017 episode of NBC’s “Sunday Night With Megyn Kelly,” on which Heslin appeared and protested Jones’ denials of the shooting. Heslin says in the episode: “I held my son with a bullet hole through his head.”
Jones and another Infowars host, Owen Shroyer, later suggested that Heslin had lied.
Heslin and Lewis are among several Sandy Hook families who have filed lawsuits against Jones, arguing that the claims that the mass shooting was a hoax are after years of abuse from his followers.