HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — Infowars host Alex Jones and his company were ordered by a judge Thursday to pay an additional $473 million in damages. USD for promoting false conspiracy theories about the Sandy Hook school massacre. to the victims’ families – a staggering 1.44 billion
Connecticut Judge Barbara Bellis awarded punitive damages to Infowars hosting and Free Speech Systems. Jones repeatedly told his millions of followers about the massacre that left 20 first-graders and six teachers dead was built by “crisis actors” for better gun control.
“The record clearly supports the plaintiffs’ argument that the defendants’ conduct was willful and malicious and was likely to cause harm because of their infrastructure, ability to distribute content and massive audiences, including information warriors,” wrote Judge 45. page resolution.
Christopher Mattei, an attorney for the Sandy Hook families, said he hopes the award will send a message to conspiracy theorists who profit from lies.
“The court found ‘intentional, malicious … and heinous’ conduct by Mr. Jones and his business entities,” 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 for the damages.
“Well, of course I laugh at it,” he said. “It would be like sending me a bill for a billion dollars in the mail. Oh man, we got you. All because of the psychological effect. It’s all Wizard of Oz…when they know full well about the bankruptcy going on and everything, that he’s going to show me what I have and everything, and I have next to nothing.
Eight relatives of the victims and an FBI agent testified during a month-long trial about years of threats and harassment by people who deny the shooting happened. Strangers appeared in some of their homes and confronted some in public. People hurled insulting comments on social media and email. Some received death and rape threats.
Six jurors ordered Jones to pay $965 million to indemnify 15 plaintiffs for defamation, infliction of emotional distress and violations of the Connecticut Unfair Trade Practices Act.
Jones called the trial unfair and a violation of free speech. He says he will appeal the verdict. He has also said he doesn’t have the money to pay such huge judgments because he has less than $2 million. Meanwhile, Free Speech Systems is seeking bankruptcy protection.
Jones said Thursday that he only has “a couple of hundred thousand dollars” in his savings account.
A message seeking comment was left with Jones’ attorney, Norm Pattis.
Bellis found Jones and Infowars’ parent company liable for damages In addition to the lawsuit last year, she repeatedly withheld a large number of financial documents and other records from the plaintiffs because of what she called. After an unusual “by default” verdict, the jury was charged only with deciding the amount of compensatory damages and punitive damages.
Jones says he turned over thousands of documents, and the order stripped him of his right to defend against the lawsuit.
The punitive damages awarded by the judge include about 323 million. $150 million in attorney’s fees and costs for the plaintiffs. USD for violations of the Unfair Trade Act.
In Connecticut, punitive damages for defamation and infliction of emotional distress are generally limited to plaintiffs’ legal fees. Sandy Hook plaintiffs’ attorneys to receive one-third of $965 million USD of compensable losses under the maintenance agreement – their legal costs amount to 322 million. USD.
However, there is no limit on punitive damages for violations of the Unfair Trade Act. The plaintiffs did not ask for a specific amount of damages, but they said one hypothetical calculation suggested that such damages could reach about $2.75 trillion under the Unfair Trade Act.
In a similar lawsuit 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 at that trial that Jones and Free Speech Systems had a combined net worth of $270 million.
The third and final trial on Jones’ fraud claims is expected to begin around the end of the year in Texas. As in Connecticut, Jones was liable for damages without a trial in both Texas cases because he failed to turn over many records to the plaintiffs.
This version corrects the spelling of Judge Bellis’s name to Barbara instead of Barabar.