A Texas jury has ordered Alex Jones to pay around $45.2 million for spreading a false conspiracy theory about the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting. The punitive damages come on top of a $4.1 million judgment yesterday in what could be a major blow to Jones’ Infowars media empire. But the number could be significantly reduced by limits built into the Texas statute that cap damages for defamation penalties.
The jury returned its verdict on Friday after hearing testimony about Jones’ finances — something he allegedly took significant steps to cover up. It contain an assessment that Jones’ company, Free Speech Systems, was worth at least $130 million; Earlier testimonies showed annual sales in recent years have been $50 million or more. Jones claimed in court that a fine of $2 million or more could “sink” Infowars.
As Bloomberg explained, Texas law limits punitive damages to twice the compensatory economic damage per defendant, plus a maximum of $750,000 for non-economic damage. Jones’ attorneys plan to seek a reduction in fines based on that rule, plaintiffs’ attorneys said Bloomberg they will “certainly litigate” if necessary.
It concludes one of three trials involving the parents of children killed in Sandy Hook in 2012, an event Jones and other Infowars employees have claimed was staged. The plaintiffs – Scarlett Lewis and Neil Heslin – had demanded $150 million.
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