Conspiracy theorist Alex Jones is a polarizing figure who has been accused of many things. But recently, he was accused of something that led a court to order him to pay almost a billion dollars to his victims.
What led the court to order Alex Jones to pay $965 million, and will he pay it?
Why Was Alex Jones on Trial?
Alex Jones is a radio host who runs media channels that share content heavily based on conspiracy theories. At one point, his most popular show and website, Infowars, was reported to receive about 10 million monthly visits.
One of the conspiracy theories Jones shared most on Infowars was related to the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings. The mass shooting led to the death of 26 people, including 20 children and six educators.
Jones regularly stated on his show that the shooting was a hoax and that the people involved — parents and families of the victims and an FBI agent who was one of the first responders on the scene — were hired “crisis” actors.
Jones’ audience grew as he spread conspiracy theories about the Sandy Hook shooting — and according to people involved, it also led to emotional agony for the families of the victims.
In 2018, multiple families filed defamation suits against Jones and Infowars’ parent company Free Speech Systems. The lawsuits alleged that the parties spread conspiracy theories about the shooting to grow their audience and make millions of dollars in the process.
Was Jones Found Liable?
The defamation suit, filed in Connecticut civil court, included multiple families of Sandy Hook victims. Relatives of five children and three educators were involved. There were originally three cases filed in Connecticut, but they were combined into one case.
All of the families shared similar stories. Families said they were threatened and harassed for years by people who believed the shooting was a hoax. The abuse took place in person with people showing up at their homes. They also received online harassment and abusive comments.
One parent said a conspiracy theorist went as far as urinating on his son’s grave and threatening to dig up the coffin. The daughter of the Sandy Hook principal who was killed said she received rape threats in the mail.
The family alleged that the conspiracy theorists were motivated by Jones’ allegations that the shooting was a hoax.
Jones was found liable in the case by default.
Jones failed to cooperate with court orders during the discovery process of the case. He failed to share evidence and turn over records that would have shown the estimated profits made by spreading the Sandy Hook conspiracy theories. His lack of engagement led the families to win a default judgment against him.
It was then up to the jury to determine how much Jones would have to pay.
They decided on $965 million.
What Led to the $965 Million Verdict?
On October 12, 2022, the jury ordered Jones to pay $965 million in compensatory damages to the plaintiffs. They also said punitive damages should be awarded. Scheduled hearings in November will determine the amount of punitive damages, according to PBS reporting.
While the jury didn’t say how they came up with the amount, Christopher Mattei, an attorney for the plaintiffs, had asked jurors to award at least a half a billion dollars. He said the amount would represent the more than 550 million online impressions Jones’ Sandy Hook lie allegedly received online.
This $965 verdict comes after a court in Texas recently awarded $50 million in another case against Jones filed by other parents of a Sandy Hook victim. Jones is also facing another lawsuit in Texas related to the shooting.
So, Will Jones Have to Pay?
Jones has publicly stated that he believes the Sandy Hook shooting is real, but his statement doesn’t mean he is going to pay up.
In the Texas trial, Jones testified that he could only afford to pay $2 million, even though an economist testified that Jones and his company were likely worth as much as $270 million.
In July 2022, before the verdict in the Connecticut case was reached, the company Free Speech Systems filed for bankruptcy to begin to attempt to protect their assets. On October 22, 2022, Jones asked the Connecticut court to throw out the $965 million verdict and order a new trial.
While families have been offered a win, we will have to wait and see if they receive any of the $965 million awarded to them.
Fight for Your Rights
You have rights, and you deserve an attorney who will fight for them. If you find yourself in a civil or criminal legal matter, talk to attorney TJ Grimaldi to see how he can help you seek justice for you or your loved ones. Call now or schedule your meeting to see how TJ can be a trusted attorney by your side.
TJ stands with the victims of gun violence. TJ is an Executive Director and Board Member of The Oulson Family Foundation which provides funds to help kids get what they need in the wake of being directly or indirectly impacted by gun violence. The organization was created to honor the life and legacy of Chad Oulson, whose life ended in a senseless act of gun violence. Learn more about The Oulson Family Foundation and see how you can also help victims of gun violence.