A Texas jury has ordered Alex Jones to pay $45.2 million in punitive damages to the family of Sandy Hook victim, in addition to the $4.11 million he must already pay in damages.
The right-wing conspiracy theorist wasn’t in court as the Travis County, Texas, jury returned its unanimous verdict against him late Friday afternoon.
Neil Heslin and Scarlett Lewis, their six-year-old son Jesse who was among 20 students and six adults killed in the mass shooting, sued Jones and his media company over allegations he made that the massacre was a “pseudoscience” operation and that the victims didn’t really exist. .
The jury decided the day after it concluded that Jones must pay $4.11 million in damages to the family.
Mr. Heslin and Mrs. Lewis had requested $150 million in damages, and the jury’s decision on punitive damages is designed to deter harmful behavior.
After that ruling, family attorney Mark Bankston asked the judge to rule on whether he could release a copy of Jones’ phone data, which he revealed during the trial had been mistakenly sent to him by Jones’ legal team.
Bankston told the court that the Jan. 6 commission and other law enforcement agencies had already asked him to turn over a copy of the statements.
Jones’ lawyers said they wanted the judge to rule that Mr Bankston could not pass incoming text messages and emails on the phone, but she refused to get involved in the situation.
I don’t stand between you (Bankston) and Congress, this is not my job and I won’t. Judge Maya Guerra Gamble said:
She told the court that the case had been “a difficult and exhausting few weeks for all of us”.
During the last day of his testimony, the family’s attorney surprisingly informed Jones that his attorney had mistakenly sent them two years of his text messages.
Jones claimed during his discovery that he could not find any text messages related to Sandy Hook on his phone, but denied that he had lied under oath.
Before the jury returned its verdict of punitive damages, a forensic economist presented evidence of Jones’ fortune.
Bernard Pettingell told the court that Jones began putting $11,000 a day into an alleged shell company after he was found responsible in the Sandy Hook cases.
He told the jury that his estimate was that Infowars made $64 million last year and that Jones’s media company, Free Speech Systems, was worth between $135 and $270 million.
“As independent as he is, as odd as he is, he is a very successful man,” Pettingail said of Jones.
He went on to estimate that Hones’ personal value was between $70 million and $140 million and that he brought in $165 million from September 2015 to December 2018.
Pettingail told the court that Jones withdrew $61.9 million from free speech systems in 2021, the year the hypothetical ruling was handed down against him.