"A Texas jury on Friday ordered Infowars’ Alex Jones to pay $49.3 million in total damages to the parents of a first grader killed in the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre, which the conspiracy theorist falsely called a hoax orchestrated by the government in order to tighten U.S. gun laws." —Jim Vertuno
This is the first time Alex Jones has been held financially liable for his damaging behavior.
"The amount is less than the $150 million sought by Neil Heslin and Scarlett Lewis, whose 6-year-old son Jesse Lewis was among the 20 children and six educators killed in the deadliest classroom shooting in U.S. history. The trial is the first time Jones has been held financially liable for peddling lies about the 2012 attack in Newtown, Connecticut." —Jim Vertuno
While Alex Jones was originally set to pay $4.1 million—which he called a victory—he now owes Neil Heslin and Scarlett Lewis an additional $45.2 million in punitive damages.
"Jurors at first awarded Heslin and Lewis $4.1 million in compensatory damages, which Jones called a major victory. But in the final phase of the two-week trial, the same Austin jury came back and tacked on an additional $45.2 million in punitive damages." —Jim Vertuno
This amount was meant to sent a message not only to Jones himself but also to talk show hosts and the American public at large.
"Punitive damages are meant to punish defendants for particularly egregious conduct, beyond monetary compensation awarded to the individuals they hurt. A high punitive award is also seen as a chance for jurors to send a wider societal message and a way to deter others from the same abhorrent conduct in the future." —Jim Vertuno
Alex Jones faces two other defamation lawsuits from Sandy Hook families in Texas and Connecticut that will put his wealth and corrupt media empire in jeopardy.
"Jones — who was in the courtroom briefly Friday but not there for the verdict — still faces two other defamation lawsuits from Sandy Hook families in Texas and Connecticut that put his personal wealth and media empire in jeopardy." —Jim Vertuno
Jones has made claims—which are false—about his actual net worth, saying he cannot pay the amount he owes, when it appears that he definitely can.
"Lawyers for the Sandy Hook families suing Jones contend that he has tried to hide evidence of his true wealth and have sued him claiming he’s tried to hide money in various shell companies. During his testimony, Jones was confronted with a memo from one of his business managers outlining a single day’s gross revenue of $800,000 from selling vitamin supplements and other products through his website, which would approach nearly $300 million in a year. Jones called it a record sales day." —Jim Vertuno
Alex Jones believed the trial was an attack of his first amendment right, which is suspect due to his extremely hateful—and false—rhetoric.
Nonetheless, he did apologize during the trial and conceded that the tragic events which occurred at Sandy Hook were, indeed, real. Needless to say, the parents have not accepted an apology because this man has caused them an enormous amount of misery during a time when they were already mourning the loss of their child.
A simple "I'm sorry," is insufficient.
"The parents told jurors about how they’ve endured a decade of trauma, inflicted first by the murder of their son and what followed: gun shots fired at a home, online and phone threats, and harassment on the street by strangers. They said the threats and harassment were all fueled by Jones and his conspiracy theory spread to his followers via his website Infowars." —Jim Vertuno
A forensic psychiatrist confirmed that the parents are indeed suffering from complex post-traumatic stress disorder.
"A forensic psychiatrist testified that the parents suffer from 'complex posttraumatic stress disorder' inflicted by ongoing trauma, similar to what might be experienced by a soldier at war or a child abuse victim." —Jim Vertuno