Infowars' Alex Jones should pay $45.2 million in punitive damages to 2 Sandy Hook parents, jury says — on top of an already awarded $4.1 million
- A jury found that Alex Jones must pay $45.2 million in punitive damages to two parents whose son was killed in the Sandy Hook massacre.
- Neil Heslin and Scarlett Lewis sued Jones for defamation over his bogus "hoax" claims about the 2012 shooting.
Far-right conspiracy theorist and founder and host of Infowars, Alex Jones, must pay $45.2 million in punitive damages to two parents whose son was killed in the Sandy Hook massacre over the broadcaster's repeated bogus claims that the mass shooting was a "hoax," a Texas jury found on Friday.
Texas has a $750,000 per person cap on punitive damages.
Jurors in Jones' defamation damages trial in Austin, Texas, awarded the money to parents Neil Heslin and Scarlett Lewis after they awarded the pair $4.1 million in compensatory damages on Thursday.
Heslin and Lewis — the parents of 6-year-old Jesse Lewis, who was one of the 26 killed in the 2012 Newtown, Connecticut, rampage — sued Jones and his media company, Free Speech Systems, for defamation over his falsehoods about the mass shooting.
Jones was already found liable by default by the Texas court and a court in Connecticut for falsely claiming the massacre — the deadliest K-12 school shooting in US history — was a "giant hoax" staged by the government with "crisis actors."
The lawyers for Heslin and Lewis previously asked the jury to force Jones to pay their clients $150 million for his "massive campaign of lies" that led to years of torment and harassment for the parents.
"Alex Jones is patient zero for our society's inability to speak without lies," plaintiff attorney Wesley Ball told the jurors on Friday as he pleaded for them to "take him out of this discourse of this misinformation, of this peddling of lies and make sure he can't do it again."
Jones' defense attorney, F. Andino Reynal, asked the jury on Friday to return a verdict that is "fair and proportionate," which he suggested was $270,000. He previously asked the jury to award no more than $8 in compensatory damages.
During the punitive damages phase of the trial, a forensic economist testified that the estimated combined net worth of Jones and Free Speech systems, the media company that operates Infowars — which filed for bankruptcy protection last week— is between $135 million and $270 million.
Forensic economist Bernard Pettingill, who was hired by the plaintiffs to testify, also estimated Jones' personal net worth to be between $70 million and $140 million.
Pettingill testified that Jones "promulgated some hate speech and some misinformation, but he made a lot of money, and he monetized that."
"As much of a maverick that he is, as much of an outsider that he is, he is a very successful man," Pettingill said.
The trial was the first of three in which juries will determine how much Jones must pay in damages to Sandy Hook families.
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