Alex Jones to pay Sandy Hook families $473 million more

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) – Infowars host Alex Jones and his company were ordered by a judge on Thursday to pay an additional $473 million for promoting false conspiracy theories about the Sandy Hook school massacre, bringing the overall verdict against him in a of the lawsuits filed brought the victims’ families a staggering $1.44 billion.

Connecticut Judge Barbara Bellis awarded punitive damages against the host of Infowars and Free Speech Systems. Jones repeatedly told his millions of followers that the massacre, which killed 20 first graders and six preschool teachers, was orchestrated by “crisis actors” to enact more gun control.

“The records clearly support the plaintiffs’ argument that the defendants’ conduct was intentional and malicious and would certainly cause harm given their infrastructure, ability to distribute content and large audience, including ïinfowarriors,” the judge wrote in a 45- page scheme.

The punitive damages include $150 million for violations of the Connecticut Unfair Trade Practices Act, which prohibits deceptive business practices and unfair competition, and approximately $323 million for plaintiffs’ attorneys’ fees and costs.

Eight victims’ families and the FBI agent testified during a month-long trial that they had been threatened and harassed for years by people who denied the shooting happened. Strangers showed up at some of their homes and confronted some of them in public. People hurled offensive comments at them on social media and in emails. And some received death and rape threats.

Six jurors ordered Jones to pay $965 million to compensate the 15 plaintiffs for defamation, emotional distress and violations of the unfair trading statute.

Jones has called the trial unfair and an attack on freedom of expression. He announced that he would appeal the verdict. He also says he doesn’t have the money to make such big judgments because he has less than $2 million to his name — which contradicted testimonies at a similar trial in Texas. Meanwhile, Free Speech Systems is filing for bankruptcy protection.

Bellis last year found the parent company of Jones and Infowars liable for damages without a trial as a result of what it called repeated failures to turn over many financial documents and other records to the plaintiffs. After the unusual “default” verdict, the jury was only tasked with deciding the amount of damages and whether punitive damages were warranted.

Jones says he turned over thousands of documents and the default judgment deprived him of the right to defend himself against the lawsuit.

Christopher Mattei, an attorney for the Sandy Hook families, said he hopes Thursday’s punitive damages award will send a message to conspiracy theorists who profit from lying.

“The court recognized the ‘willful, malicious … and heinous’ conduct of Mr. Jones and his business units,” Mattei said in a statement.

A message was left for Jones’ attorney, Norm Pattis, asking for comment.

In Connecticut, punitive damages for defamation and infliction of emotional distress are generally limited to the plaintiff’s attorneys’ fees. Attorneys for Sandy Hook plaintiffs are to receive one-third of the $965 million in damages under an advance payment agreement — putting their attorney fees at $322 million.

However, there is no cap on punitive damages for violations of the Unfair Trading Practices Act. Plaintiffs had not sought specific punitive damages, but following a hypothetical calculation, they said such damages under the Unfair Trading Act could total approximately $2.75 trillion.

In a similar trial in Texas in August, Jones was ordered to pay nearly $50 million to the parents of another child killed in the Sandy Hook shooting because they called the massacre a hoax. A forensic economist testified during this trial that Jones and Free Speech Systems have a combined net worth of up to $270 million.

A third and final trial over Jones’ false reports is expected to begin in Texas later this year. As in Connecticut, in both Texas cases Jones was found liable for damages without a trial for his failure to turn over many records to the plaintiffs. Alex Jones to pay Sandy Hook families $473 million more

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