Judge orders Alex Jones to pay additional $473 million in Sandy Hook trial
A judge ordered far-right conspiracy theorist Alex Jones and his company on Thursday to pay the families of eight victims of the 2012 Sandy Hook school shooting an additional $473 million in damages for falsely claiming the massacre was a hoax, AP reports.
Why it matters: The nearly $500 million order comes on top of the $965 million in damages a Connecticut jury ordered Jones to pay the families in the defamation lawsuit in October.
- He is also on the hook to pay the parents of a 6-year-old boy killed in the same school shooting $49.3 million in damages as part of a separate lawsuit in Texas.
- An FBI agent who first responded to the shooting is also a plaintiff in the Connecticut defamation lawsuit.
By the numbers: The total judgment against Jones in the Connecticut lawsuit is now $1.44 billion.
- $150 million in punitive damages were imposed for violations of Connecticut’s Unfair Trade Practices Act, while $323 million were for plaintiff attorney costs.
What they're saying: "The record clearly supports the plaintiffs’ argument that the defendants’ conduct was intentional and malicious, and certain to cause harm by virtue of their infrastructure, ability to spread content, and massive audience including the ïnfowarriors," Judge Barabara Bellis wrote in a 45-page ruling, according to AP.
- Bellis also froze Jones' assets, allowing him to only make ordinary living expenses, Bloomberg reports.
- "The Court recognized the ‘intentional, malicious … and heinous’ conduct of Mr. Jones and his business entities," Chris Mattei, the families' attorney, said in a statement. "Our hope is that this serves to reinforce the message of this case: those who profit from lies targeting the innocent will face justice."
The big picture: Jones, primarily through his website and radio show Infowars, for years falsely claimed the shooting was a "false flag" operation planned by the government using "crisis actors" to undermine gun rights.
- In total, a gunman armed with an AR-15 style rifle killed 20 children and six staff members at Sandy Hook Elementary School near Newtown, Connecticut, in 2012.
- Jones and Free Speech Systems, his company and the parent company of Infowars, declared bankruptcy earlier this year in a bid to limit the cost of litigation damages.
- The families involved in the Connecticut and Texas lawsuits previously asked a federal bankruptcy judge to order Jones to relinquish control of Free Speech Systems.
- He faces another trial in a third defamation lawsuit that is tentatively scheduled for later this year. That suit was brought by the parents of another boy who died in the shooting.
Editor's note: This story has been updated with new details throughout.