Alex Jones must pay full $49 million damages award, Texas judge rules
Alex Jones has lost a bid to water down the nearly $50 million damages award handed down by a jury earlier this year over the Infowars host’s false claims about the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre.
Texas Judge Maya Guerra Gamble on Tuesday ruled that Jones should pay the $45.2 million in punitive damages that a jury awarded Sandy Hook parents Neil Heslin and Scarlett Lewis in August, in spite of a state cap that would have limited that amount. The jury also ruled that Jones should pay $4.1 million in compensatory damages.
The judgment adds to a growing list of rulings and trials racking up costs for Jones, who owes $1.4 billion in a separate Connecticut case brought by eight families of Sandy Hook victims and a first responder.
Jones baselessly repeated after the 2012 mass shooting, in which 26 people were killed, including 20 children, that the incident was staged, and that the families and first responders were “crisis actors.”
The Texas law guiding punitive damages allows plaintiffs to collect up to twice what was awarded in economic compensatory damages, plus up to $750,000. Jurors are not told about this cap and steep verdicts are often reduced by judges.
But Judge Gamble ruled that she would enter a judgment for the full amount.
“There’s no question to me that this is a rare instance, I hope it remains a rare instance, where a defendant intentionally inflicted emotional damage in a manner so unusual that the victims had no other recourse,” Judge Gamble said.
She added that the amount should be high enough so it “isn’t affordable” to intentionally inflict this type of emotional damage again.
Jones’ attorney said the Infowars founder will appeal Tuesday’s decision, Reuters reported.
Judge Gamble also set a March 23, 2023 trial date for another defamation lawsuit against Jones by the father of 6-year old Noah Pozner, who was killed in the Sandy Hook shooting.
It is unclear how much the families will get from Jones, who has said he has little money to pay the damages. Jones’s company Free Speech Systems, which operates Infowars, filed for bankruptcy protection in July.
Earlier this week, Elon Musk said he would not restore Jones’ Twitter account, despite allowing other banned individuals, including former President Donald Trump, back onto the platform. Musk, who lost his first born son at 10 weeks of age, said he had “no mercy” for anyone “who would use the deaths of children for gain, politics or fame.”
— Oliver Darcy and Brian Fung contributed reporting.
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