One day after ruling that the Infowars host must pay the parents of a Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting victim $4.1 million in compensatory damages for the suffering brought on by his lies about the 2012 massacre, a Texas jury on Friday ordered Alex Jones to pay $45.2 million in punitive damages.
Scarlett Lewis and Neil Heslin, whose 6-year-old son, Jesse, was slain in the attack in Newtown, Connecticut, urged the jury to grant them $149.5 million in order to attain the $150 million they had requested. This request was made by Wesley Ball.
Only such a big cash, according to Ball, would be sufficient to “take the bullhorn away” from Jones.
“I request that you remove the platform that Alex Jones talks about along with your decision. I beg you to ensure that he is unable to rebuild the platform. What matters is that “said he. “That’s a penalty, that’s a deterrent,”
With the $4.1 million verdict, the jury, according to Jones’ attorney Andino Reynal, had already made it clear to Jones and other talk show hosts that their standard of care must be different. A sizable payout, he added, would simply serve to deter people from questioning “government officials who missed the ball.”
Reynal challenged the verdict, claiming it was inconsistent with Texas law, which limits the real amount to $750,000 per plaintiff. The court acknowledged the argument and said that the statute implies that we do not trust our juries in this state.
Punitive damages are used to make up for very bad behavior.
Following expert testimony from forensic economist Bernard Pettingill, the jury reached their verdict. Pettingill’s testimony was designed to provide jurors an understanding of how much money Jones possesses and, consequently, how much it would cost to punish him for his actions. Jones’ defense team contested Pettingill’s estimate of the value of Jones and his enterprises, which put their net worth at between $135 million and $270 million. They claimed that despite being “deplatformed” by multiple social media platforms in 2018, Jones and his businesses gained more money. Throughout the trial, Jones has argued that his removal from the sites caused his businesses to lose money.
Pettingill further stated that when Jones was found accountable in a default judgment in the Sandy Hook case, he started putting $11,000 per day into a shell business he owns.
He testified that he is a very successful individual. He spread some false information and hate speech, but he also made a lot of money, which he turned into a business.
In this case, the jury was merely asked to determine whether Jones, who was already found responsible by the judge for failing to turn over crucial evidence before the trial began, must also compensate Jesses’ parents for the grief and harm to their reputation that his false statements caused.
Both parents testified during the trial, along with Jones, who saw the action as an assault on his First Amendment rights. He has claimed that the massacre was staged and had actors after it occurred. Later, he admitted that it had happened.
Jones’ lies, according to Heslin and Lewis’ testimony on Tuesday, made them worry for their lives and made their pain worse.
Speaking to Jones directly during her testimony, Lewis stated, “Having a 6-year-old boy shot in front of his school is horrible and you don’t believe you’re going to live and then to have someone on top of that spread a lie that it was a hoax, that it was a false flag. You don’t seem to realize the terror you instill in people, not just in the victims’ family but also in our family, our friends, and everyone else who survived that school.
The trial’s central argument is an episode of NBC’s Sunday Night With Megyn Kelly from 2017 in which Heslin made an appearance and disputed Jones’ denial of the incident. I held my baby with a bullet hole in his skull, Heslin claims in the episode.
Later, Jones and Owen Shroyer, another Infowars host, made suggestions that Heslin had lied.
Several Sandy Hook families, including Heslin and Lewis, have filed lawsuits against Jones, claiming that his claims that the deadly massacre was a fabrication have resulted in years of abuse from his supporters.