A Texas jury has ordered Alex Jones to pay approximately $45.2 million for spreading a false conspiracy theory about the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting. The punitive damages come on top of a $4.1 million verdict yesterday, potentially marking a major blow to Jones’ Infowars media empire. However, the number could be significantly reduced by limits built into the Texas legal code, which limits damages to defamation punishments.
The jury returned its verdict on Friday after hearing testimony about Jones’ finances – which allegedly made significant strides to obscure. The included assessment that Jones’ company Free Speech Systems was worth at least $130 million. Previous testimony indicated that its annual revenue in recent years was $50 million or more. Jones claimed in court that a fine of $2 million or more could “sink” Infowars.
As Bloomberg explains, Texas law limits punitive damages to twice the level of compensatory economic damages per defendant plus a maximum of $750,000 for noneconomic damages. Jones’ attorneys plan to file a motion to reduce the fine under that rule, the plaintiffs’ attorneys said Bloomberg “They will certainly resort to legal action” if necessary.
This concludes one of three trials involving parents of children killed at Sandy Hook in 2012, an event that Jones and other Infowars employees claimed was staged. The plaintiffs — Scarlett Lewis and Neil Heslin — had sought $150 million.