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Conspiracy Theorist Alex Jones Ordered to Pay $49.3 Million in Damages to Sandy Hook Family

A Texas jury awards Jesse Lewis's parents $49.3 million in compensatory and punitive damages for Jones's false portrayal of the school massacre as a hoax.
Conspiracy Theorist Alex Jones Ordered to Pay $49.3 Million in Damages to Sandy Hook Family

Conspiracy theorist Alex Jones must pay the parents of Sandy Hook victim Jesse Lewis compensatory damage awards totaling $4.1 million, an Austin jury determined Thursday — far below the $150 million requested, reports the Austin American-Statesman.

But the financial hit against Jones and his main company, Free Speech Systems, might not be over. "One thing's for sure. Mr. Jones is not going to sleep easy tonight after that verdict," said Mark Bankston, an attorney for the parents.

UPDATE: Late Friday, the jury awarded the parents $45.2 million in punitive damages as Mr. Jones is found liable for defaming the victims’ families while spreading bogus theories that the shooting had been part of a government plot to confiscate Americans’ firearms and that the victims’ families had been complicit in the scheme.

Alex Jones trial verdict: Jury awards $4.1 million in first phase of Sandy Hook case (Austin American-Statesman)

Excerpt from the Austin American-Stateman: In the next phase of the trial, jurors will be asked to issue punitive damages that are intended as punishment after hearing testimony from the parents' economic expert on the net worth of Jones and his company, Free Speech Systems. Bankston said he was not at all disappointed in the size of the verdict, calling $4.1 million a substantial sum for compensatory damages. The next phase, for punitive damages, "becomes the real name of the game," he said, because then jurors can do what they were barred from doing on actual damages — issue an award intended to punish Jones. Neil Heslin and Scarlett Lewis had asked jurors for $150 million in compensation for actual damages, saying Jones' portrayal of the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting as a hoax meant to justify a government crackdown on guns — and the parents as liars or collaborators — inspired harassment and death threats from Jones followers and made it impossible to heal from the tragedy.
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According to the Associated Press, Alex Jones and his company Free Speech Systems are worth up to $270 million, an economist testified Friday to a jury trying to determine if Jones should have to pay punitive damages to the family of a 6-year-old killed in the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings.

Economist: Alex Jones, his company worth up to $270 million (Associated Press)

Excerpt from the Associated Press: Bernard Pettingill, who was hired by the plaintiffs to study Jones’ net worth, said records show that Jones withdrew $62 million for himself in 2021, when default judgments were issued in lawsuits against him. "That number represents, in my opinion, a value of a net worth," Pettingill said. "He’s got money put in a bank account somewhere." The money that flows into Jones’ companies eventually funnels its way to him, said Pettingill, who added that he has testified in approximately 1,500 cases during his career. "He is a very successful man,” Pettingill said, calling Jones a "maverick" and "revolutionary" for finding ways to monetize his online messaging.
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In a related story from last week, Alex Jones' media company Free Speech Systems filed for bankruptcy, but his attorney said it should not disrupt the defamation damages trial underway in Texas, writes NPR.

Alex Jones' media company files for bankruptcy during defamation damages trial (NPR)

Excerpt from NPR: The bankruptcy filing was announced by Jones' attorney Andino Reynal late in the day on Friday. Reynal and attorneys for the family suing Jones told Judge Maya Guerra Gamble that the bankruptcy filing would not halt the lawsuit. The company wants "to put this part of the odyssey behind us so that we have some numbers" set for damages, Reynal said. It is not the first time a bankruptcy filing has come amid litigation against Jones by the Sandy Hook families. In April, Jones' company Infowars and two more of his business entities filed for bankruptcy protection, which led to a trial delay. Free Speech Systems is the parent company of Infowars. Christopher Mattei, an attorney for the Sandy Hook families in the Connecticut case, issued a statement Friday evening blasting the bankruptcy filing. "These families have an endless well of patience and remain determined to hold Mr. Jones accountable."
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