Alex Jones loses bid to slash $50 million Sandy Hook defamation verdict
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[November 23, 2022]
By Jack Queen
DALLAS (Reuters) - Conspiracy theorist Alex Jones on Tuesday failed in
his bid to slash a nearly $50 million defamation verdict against him
over his false claims that the 2012 Sandy Hook mass shooting was a hoax.
Judge Maya Guerra Gamble rejected arguments by a lawyer for Jones and
the parent company of his Infowars website that a Texas state law
capping certain types of damages meant that the August verdict in favor
of two parents of a child slain at Sandy Hook should be cut by more than
Jones claimed for years that the 2012 killing of 20 students and six
staff members at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut,
was staged with actors as part of a government plot to seize Americans’
guns. He has since acknowledged the shooting occurred.
Plaintiffs Neil Heslin and Scarlett Lewis testified that they suffered
years of harassment and abuse at the hands of Jones' followers, who
falsely believed they lied about their six-year-old son Jesse Lewis'
Texas law caps non-economic punitive damages, which made up $45.2
million of the total verdict. Heslin and Lewis' lawyers successfully
argued that the cap does not apply due to a carveout for intentional
abuse of a disabled person, saying trauma over their son's death counted
as a disability.
“Our clients are pleased that the jury’s verdict was upheld in totality
and my remaining clients look forward to closing out this vile chapter
of American history by continuing to hold Mr Jones accountable,” Heslin
and Lewis’ attorney, Mark Bankston, told Reuters after the hearing in
Travis County District Court in Austin, Texas.
Jones’ attorney, Andino Reynal, said the ruling contradicts "decades of
precedent" and that he will appeal.
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Infowars founder Alex Jones speaks to
the media after appearing at his Sandy Hook defamation trial at
Connecticut Superior Court in Waterbury, Connecticut, U.S., October
4, 2022. REUTERS/Mike Segar/File Photo
In October, a Connecticut jury in a separate case brought by
relatives of more than a dozen Sandy Hook victims ordered Jones and
his company, Free Speech Systems LLC, to pay nearly $1 billion in
The judge in that case tacked on an additional $473 million in
punitive damages for Jones’ “cruel” conduct earlier this month.
Evidence in both cases showed that bogus Sandy Hook claims
turbocharged traffic to Infowars and drove sales of its products,
including supplements and doomsday supplies.
Lawyers for the plaintiffs argued that Jones and his company knew
that victims’ families were being harassed but continued to spread
falsehoods about the shooting because it was profitable.
Free Speech Systems declared bankruptcy in Texas in July. The Sandy
Hook families have intervened in the case, alleging Jones is using
the proceedings to shield his assets and avoid paying.
The families have also sued Jones in Texas court seeking to unwind
transactions that they said allowed Jones to loot millions of
dollars from his company and stash them in shell entities ahead of
potential judgments against him.
Another defamation lawsuit against Jones brought by Sandy Hook
parents is set to go to trial in Austin, Texas, in March.
(Reporting by Jack Queen in Dallas; Editing by Matthew Lewis)
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