This is on top of the $4.1 million that a jury told the Infowars host to pay the family on Thursday for the pain he caused them with his website and broadcast.
A Texas jury on Friday ordered Alex Jones to pay $45.2 million in punitive damages to the parents of a Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting victim, a day after deciding the Infowars host must pay them $4.1 million in compensatory damages for the suffering caused by his lies about the 2012 massacre.
Wesley Ball, an attorney for Scarlett Lewis and Neil Heslin, whose 6-year-old son Jesse was killed in the attack in Newtown, Connecticut, had asked the jury to give them $149.5 million to get to the $150 million they had originally asked for.
Ball argued that only such a large sum would be enough to “take the bullhorn away” from Jones.
“I ask that when you make your decision, you don’t just take Alex Jones’s platform away. I want you to make sure he can’t put the platform back together. That’s what’s important “he said. “That’s a punishment, and that’s a warning.”
Jones’ attorney Andino Reynal told jurors they had already sent a message to Jones and other talk show hosts with the $4.1 million judgement that “their standard of care has to be different.” He also said that a big award would make people less likely to ask questions about “government officials who dropped the ball.”
Reynal didn’t agree with the decision. He said that the verdict didn’t follow Texas law, which says that the most a plaintiff can get is $750,000. The judge agreed with the objection and said that the law shows that “we don’t trust our juries” in the state.
Punitive damages are intended to punish someone for especially harmful behaviour.
Expert testimony from forensic economist Bernard Pettingill helped the jury decide what to do. Pettingill’s testimony was meant to show the jury how much money Jones has and, by extension, how much it would cost to punish him for his actions. Pettingill said that Jones and his companies are worth between $135 million and $270 million, which Jones’s defence team disputed. He also said that Jones and his companies made more money after being “deplatformed” by several social media sites in 2018. Jones has said throughout the trial that his businesses have lost money since he left the sites.
Pettingill also said that after Jones was found guilty by default in the Sandy Hook case, he started putting $11,000 a day into a “shell company” he runs.
He said, “He is a very successful man.” “He spread hate speech and false information, but he made a lot of money and used that to make more money.”
In this case, the jury was only asked to decide if Jones, who was already found guilty by a judge because he didn’t turn over important evidence before the trial started, should also pay Jesse’s parents for the emotional pain and damage to their reputation that his false claims caused.
Both parents and Jones testified at the trial. Jones said that the lawsuit was an attack on his rights under the First Amendment. After the massacre, he said that it was made up and that crisis actors were involved. He later agreed that it did happen.
Heslin and Lewis said in court on Tuesday that Jones’ lies made them afraid for their lives and made their sadness worse.
“Having a 6-year-old son shot in front of his classroom is unbearable, and you don’t think you’re going to live, and then to have someone spread a lie that it was a hoax, that it was a false flag,” Lewis said to Jones directly during her testimony. “I don’t think you realise how much fear you spread, not just to the family of the victim but also to our family, our friends, and anyone who survived that school.”
The most important part of the trial is an episode of “Sunday Night With Megyn Kelly” from 2017 in which Heslin appeared and questioned Jones’ claim that he wasn’t there when the shooting happened. In the episode, Heslin says, “I held my son, who had a bullet hole in his head.”
Jones and Owen Shroyer, another Infowars host, later made it sound like Heslin had lied.
Heslin and Lewis are two of many Sandy Hook families who have filed lawsuits against Jones. They say that his claims that the mass shooting was a fake led his followers to be mean to them for years.