Alex Jones Trial Moves To Punitive Damages Phase

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HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — Infowars big Alex Jones faces the anticipation of having much steep penalties heaped onto the immense magnitude helium already owes for spreading conspiracy theories astir the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, arsenic the punitive damages signifier began Friday successful a suit filed by the victims’ families.

A Connecticut assemblage past period ordered Jones and his company, Free Speech Systems, to wage $965 million to the Sandy Hook families for harm they suffered aft helium persuaded his assemblage that the 2012 shooting that killed 26 radical was a hoax perpetrated by “crisis actors.”

The assemblage besides said punitive damages should beryllium awarded. That amount, to beryllium determined by Judge Barbara Bellis pursuing the tribunal proceeding Friday and different 1 Monday, would beryllium added to the compensatory damages already ordered.

Friday’s hearing, which was lone astir the plaintiffs’ ineligible fees and was held via a video conference, suggested a large further punishment was imaginable for Jones.

Both sides reached statement earlier this week that the families’ declaration with their attorneys calls for them to person one-third of the magnitude of the compensatory damages — astir $322 million. If the justice approves punitive damages successful the magnitude of the ineligible fees, that would summation what Jones and his institution would person to wage the families to $1.29 billion.

The plaintiffs’ lawyers, successful tribunal filings, suggested punitive damages nether the enactment could full $2.75 trillion based connected 1 hypothetical calculation, but they person not asked for a circumstantial amount.

“Justice requires that the Court’s punitive damages award, punish and deter this evil conduct,” attorneys Alinor Sterling, Christopher Mattei and Joshua Koskoff wrote successful a motion. “Only a punitive damages appraisal of historical size volition service those purposes.”

Jones’ lawyer, Norm Pattis, has asked the justice not to grant immoderate punitive damages nether the Unfair Trade Practices Act.

“Few defendants live could wage damages of this sum,” Pattis wrote successful a brief. “Indeed, astir defendants would beryllium driven into bankruptcy, their livelihood destroyed, and their aboriginal transformed into the bleak imaginable of a judgement debtor saddled for decades with a indebtedness that cannot beryllium satisfied. To respect this arsenic thing different than punishment would beryllium unjust.”

Jones was recovered liable past twelvemonth for damages to 8 victims’ relatives, and an FBI cause who responded to the school, for defamation, infliction of affectional distress and violating Connecticut’s Unfair Trade Practices Act.

On Monday, the justice volition perceive statement astir damages nether the Unfair Trade Practices Act. Although punitive damages are mostly constricted to attorneys’ fees for defamation and infliction of affectional distress, determination are nary specified limits for punitive damages nether that act.

All 15 plaintiffs gave affectional testimony during the trial, describing however they person been threatened and harassed for years by radical who judge the shooting didn’t happen.

Strangers showed up astatine immoderate of their homes and confronted immoderate of them successful public. People hurled abusive comments astatine them connected societal media and successful emails. And immoderate said they received decease and rape threats.

In a calculation successful a plaintiffs’ tribunal filing, they said Jones’ comments astir Sandy Hook were viewed an estimated 550 cardinal times connected his and Infowars’ societal media accounts from 2012 to 2018. They said that translated into 550 cardinal violations of the Unfair Trade Practices Act.

“If each of the 550 cardinal violations were assessed astatine the $5,000 statutory maximum, the full civilian punishment would beryllium $2,750,000,000,000 ($2.75 trillion),” their attorneys wrote.

They besides said punitive damages for violations of the unfair commercialized practices instrumentality typically are aggregate times much than compensatory damages.

Jones has said connected his Infowars amusement that it doesn’t substance however ample the damages awards are, due to the fact that helium doesn’t person $2 cardinal to his sanction and helium wouldn’t beryllium capable to wage the afloat amounts.

That contradicted grounds astatine a akin proceedings successful Texas successful August, erstwhile a assemblage ordered Jones to wage nearly $50 million to the parents of 1 of the children killed successful the Sandy Hook shooting owed to his lies astir the massacre.

A forensic economist testified that Jones and Free Speech Systems, Infowars’ genitor company, person a combined nett worthy arsenic precocious arsenic $270 million, which Jones disputes. Free Speech Systems filed for bankruptcy protection successful the mediate of the proceedings successful Texas, portion a 3rd proceedings implicit the hoax conspiracy is planned astir the extremity of the year.

Jones has vowed to entreaty each the verdicts against him related to Sandy Hook.

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