AUSTIN, Texas — A Texas jury on Friday accused conspiracy theorist Alex Jones of spreading a lie that the parents of the children killed in the 2012 Sandy Hook school shooting were complicit in a massacre scheme. ordered to pay punitive damages of $45.2 million.

A jury found Mr Jones and Free Speech Systems, the parent company of his disinformation media outlet Infowars, worth $135 million on Friday, a day after awarding his parents more than $4 million in compensatory damages. After testifying that there was, he announced the decision. $270 million.

Mr Jones was found guilty last year of defaming the family of a victim and spreading a false theory that the shooting was part of a government plan to confiscate firearms from Americans and that the victim’s family was complicit in the scheme. Judgment has been received.

According to Cornell Law School, compensatory damages are based on proven harm, loss, or injury, often based on the fair market value of damaged property, lost wages and expenses. calculated. Punitive damages are intended to punish particularly harmful behavior and tend to be awarded at the discretion of courts, sometimes many times more than compensatory awards.

The lawsuit, which was decided this week, was filed by Scarlett Lewis and Neil Heslin, whose 6-year-old son Jesse Lewis died in an attack in Newtown, Connecticut.

“Today is an important day for truth and justice and I couldn’t be happier,” Lewis told the court after the verdict.

Before the jury began deliberating on punitive damages, the family’s attorney, Wesley Todd Ball, told the jury, “We have the ability to send a message to everyone in this country, and perhaps this world. ” he said.

“Send me a very simple message: Stop Alex Jones,” he said. “Please stop monetizing with false rumors and lies. Please.”

Ball was seeking jury damages of approximately $146 million in punitive damages in addition to $4 million in compensatory damages awarded Thursday.

The amount Mr Jones actually has to pay in punitive damages is certain to be the subject of further litigation. Add $750,000.

But Mark Bankston, an attorney for Heslin and Lewis, told reporters on Thursday that the matter would likely go to the Texas Supreme Court, with legal experts disagreeing. said. Constitutionality of caps.

Jones’ attorney F. Andino Raynal said the punitive award would eventually be reduced to $1.5 million.

Jones “believes the First Amendment is under siege and he looks forward to continuing the fight,” Raynal said after the verdict.

After the jury award, Judge Maya Guerra Gamble also paved the way for another potentially problematic step for Jones.

Lawyers for the family said during the trial that Jones’ team apparently inadvertently sent large caches of data from Jones’ cell phone, and on Friday Judge Gamble said he would not interfere with lawyers. Heslin and Lewis delivering a message to law enforcement and the House Committee on Jan. 6.

The committee subpoenaed Mr. Jones in an investigation into his role in helping plan a Trump rally in Washington on Jan. 6, 2021, prior to the attack on the Capitol.

The damages trial for another lawsuit in Connecticut, in the Sandy Hook defamation case, is set to begin next month, but that could be delayed after Free Speech Systems filed for bankruptcy last week. Lawyers for the family criticized the move as another attempt by Jones to protect his property and avoid a verdict.

The Texas lawsuit allowed plaintiffs to testify about Jones’ property and his company’s operations. His company makes money selling merchandise in addition to broadcasting Mr. Jones’ broadcasts.

Bernard Pettingill Jr., a forensic economist and former professor of economics at the Florida Institute of Technology, testified Friday as a witness for Heslin and Lewis that Jones was a “very successful person.”

Infowars had an average annual revenue of $53.2 million from September 2015 to December 2018, said Pettingill. Since then, the company’s revenue has seen a “pretty healthy uptick,” including sales of Survivalist products and supplements, and he said he made nearly $65 million in revenue last year.

At one point, Mr. Jones was paying himself an average of $6 million a year, Mr. Pettingill said.

Free Speech Systems, which has filed for bankruptcy, reports $14.3 million in assets, $1.9 million in net income, and nearly $11 million in product sales as of May 31. Free Speech Systems also has nearly $79.2 million in debt from him, 68% of which is in his notes to PQPR Holdings, the company that names Jones as managing director.

Pettingill said Jones began pouring $11,000 a day into PQPR after being convicted of default in the Sandy Hook case last year.

Pettingill said the “massive” loan from PQPR, a shell company with no employees, was actually Jones “using the note as a clawback to repay himself.” But Jones’ attorneys argued that PQPR was a real company. Another note is set to mature when Mr. Jones turns 74 (now 48).

Pettingill said he was able to track down nine privately held Jones-related companies, but had to compile the information in part because Jones’ team resisted discovery orders.

“We can’t really put our finger on what he does for a living or how he actually makes his money,” he said.

“His org board is an inverted T, meaning that everything flows to Alex Jones. Alex Jones made all the major decisions. Alex Jones knows where the money is. I think they are,” Pettingill said. “You may say he’s broke, he’s got no money, but I know that’s not true.”

Jones’ attorney Raynall said in Friday’s closing statement, “We have not been able to obtain any evidence of what Alex Jones actually has today. I got nothing about having the money.The assets they have that they have to pay.

Jones and others such as the Genesis Communications Network, which has helped syndicate his shows for decades, have used the defamation case as an opportunity to solicit donations from fans to provide financial support. He claims he has a problem.

Jones complains that his revenue plummeted after being banned from a major social media platform in 2018. Bankston countered in court on Wednesday.

After Friday’s ruling, Lewis stressed the importance of having the opportunity to face Jones face-to-face in court earlier in the week during the trial.

“I look into his eyes and see the impact his actions have had on me and my family, and not just us, but all the other Sandy Hook families, everyone who lives in Sandy Hook, and the ripple effects. I had to tell him that it was all over the world,” she said. “It was a cathartic moment for me.”

It was also important, she said, that Mr. Jones saw a video of a live Jesse running in a field that was presented in court. “I think he was punished,” she said of Jones. “I think he’s being held accountable. I hope he really takes this to heart.

Elizabeth Williamson Reported by Austin, Tiffany Shoe from San Francisco and Michael Levenson from New York.


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