A Texas jury has ordered Alex Jones to pay nearly $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 ruling from yesterday, potentially a major blow to Jones’ Infowars media empire. But the number can be significantly reduced by limits built into the Texas legal code, which imposes damages on defamation penalties.
The jury handed back its verdict on Friday after hearing testimony about Jones’ finances – something it has reportedly taken significant steps to obscure. This include an assessment Jones’ company Free Speech Systems was worth at least $130 million; Previous testimony indicated that it had annual revenue of $50 million or more in recent years. Jones claimed in court that a fine of $2 million or more could “drown” Infowars.
as bloomberg Points out, Texas law prevents punitive damages at twice the level of defendant compensatory economic damages and a maximum of $750,000 for non-pecuniary damages. Jones’ attorneys plan to file for a reduction in fines based on that rule, some of the plaintiffs’ attorneys told bloomberg They will “surely sue” if necessary.
It concludes one of three trials involving parents of children killed in Sandy Hook in 2012, an event Jones and other InfoWars employees claimed was staged. The plaintiffs – Scarlett Lewis and Neil Heslin – had asked for $150 million.