A judge in Texas said on Tuesday that she would order Infowars liar Alex Jones to pay the parents of a Sandy Hook school shooting victim the full $49 million that a jury had given them. Even though there is a law in Texas that caps punitive damages at a much lower amount than what the jury had decided, this is still the case.
After spreading false rumors that the shooting was faked and that the parents were actors, Mr. Jones was ordered in August by a jury in Austin, Texas, to pay $4 million in damages to Scarlett Lewis and Neil Heslin, whose son Jesse Lewis was killed in the Newtown, Connecticut, massacre. The jury also told Mr. Jones to pay $45 million to the parents as punishment for what he did. Under Texas law, the most a plaintiff can get in punitive damages is two times the amount of economic damages plus $750,000. F. Andino Reynal, a lawyer for Mr. Jones, thought that this would mean that the award would be much less than what the jury had decided.
During a hearing on Tuesday, Judge Maya Guerra Gamble of the District Court in Travis County, where Infowars is based, questioned whether or not the Texas cap is legal. She also said that the verdict was “a rare case” in which Ms. Lewis and Mr. Heslin were hurt so badly emotionally that “I believe they have no recourse.”
It’s likely that Mr. Jones will file an appeal, but the award is just a small part of the huge amount of money he will have to pay because of the conspiracy theories he spread about the 2012 shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School through his Infowars media empire. In the fall of this year, a court in Connecticut gave the families of eight Sandy Hook victims more than $1.4 billion. Mr. Jones is already close to going broke, and it’s not clear yet how much money the families will get in the end.
The lawsuit filed by the parents of Sandy Hook victims Noah Pozner, Leonard Pozner, and Veronique De La Rosa, will go to a third trial for damages in the near future. The date that Judge Guerra Gamble set for the hearing to start was March 27. The hearing took place on Tuesday. The lawsuit against Mr. Jones has already been decided in his favor, so the only question left is how much money he will have to pay as a settlement.
Mr. Jones has spoken out against the lawsuits that have been filed against him, saying that he is “proud to be under this level of attack.”
During court proceedings on Tuesday, a lawyer named Chris Martin argued on behalf of Mr. Jones that even though the Texas cap on punitive damages had been reached in a few cases, the plaintiffs in those other cases had shown more severe emotional damage than Mr. Heslin and Ms. Lewis had so far. This argument did not convince the judge.
This person and this company have done something horrible,
Judge Guerra Gamble said, referring to Mr. Jones and Infowars. She said that Texas lawmakers had also questioned whether or not the cap was legal, and she also said that the case had made her think about her own constitutional oath.
Sometimes you are so busy working, you forget what you are sworn to do,
Several experts in the field of law have said that they don’t agree on whether or not the cap is constitutional. However, Mark Bankston, the lawyer for the parents in Texas, said that the decision sends the message that “Mr. Jones can’t run from accountability.”
My clients look forward to closing the chapter on the most vile act of defamation in American history,