Jury Awards Punitive Damages in Alex Jones Case of $45M

Lawyer had asked jurors to send a message to "stop the monetization of misinformation'
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 5, 2022 5:45 PM CDT
Updated Aug 5, 2022 5:47 PM CDT
Jury Adds $45M to Damages Alex Jones Owes Parents
Alex Jones listens to questions while testifying Wednesday in Austin.   (Briana Sanchez/Austin American-Statesman via AP, Pool)

(Newser) – The jury in Alex Jones' defamation trial on Friday awarded the parents of a 6-year-old boy killed in the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School punitive damages of $45.2 million. Jones' lawyer immediately objected, the New York Times reports, pointing out to the judge that Texas law limits punitive awards to twice the amount of compensatory damages plus $750,000 per plaintiff. Neil Heslin and Scarlett Lewis won compensatory damages of more than $4 million on Thursday. Jones repeatedly had told his Infowars audience that the mass shooting was a hoax. A lawyer for the plaintiffs asked the jury Friday to "send a very very simple message" when deciding punitive damages: "And that is, stop Alex Jones. Stop the monetization of misinformation and lies."

An attorney for Jones suggested Friday that the jury settle on a fraction of its punitive award for the parents of Jesse Lewis, per CNN. The jurors could multiply Jones' purported hourly earnings of $14,000 by the 18 hours that Federico Andino Reynal said Jones spent talking about the massacre on Infowars. That would come to about $250,000. In the compensatory damages stage Thursday, Jones' team unsuccessfully proposed damages totaling $8 to the same jury. The jury heard testimony Friday that Jones and Free Speech Systems, the parent company of Infowars, have a net worth of $135 million to $270 million, per the Times.

The $49 million in total damages ordered this week would be about three-fourths of Infowars' revenue last year of almost $65 million. It's the first time a court has found Jones financially liable for spreading lies about the 2012 shooting, per the AP, but he faces two more trials from Sandy Hook families, in Texas and Connecticut. Heslin and Lewis had asked the court for $150 million, based on $1 in compensation and $1 in punishment for the estimated 75 million people who experts claim either don't believe the shooting was real or have doubts, per the Washington Post. After the judge left the courtroom Friday, Mark Bankston, a lawyer for Jesse's parents, shouted, "I'll take it!" (Read more Alex Jones stories.)

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