Texas Judge Orders Alex Jones to Pay Sandy Hook’s Parents $49 Million in Libel Case

A judge in a Texas district court has ordered Infowars host Alex Jones to pay the parents of a 6-year-old killed in the Sandy Hook shooting the full $49 million in damages in a defamation lawsuit, despite a state law that limits the number of sentences. damages that may be awarded in civil proceedings.

In August, a jury awarded Scarlett Lewis and Neil Heslin $4.1 million in punitive damages and $45.2 million in punitive damages to Jones for spreading a conspiracy theory that the shooting was a hoax. Jones’ lawyers tried to invoke the state cap to reduce the amount he owed by more than $40 million. But at a hearing Tuesday, Travis County District Court Judge Maya Guerra Gamble questioned the constitutionality of the law, which could limit the amount of punitive damages in this case to $750,000, The New York Times reported.

“This person and this company have done a terrible thing,” Guerra Gamble said at the hearing.

The law limiting punitive damages was passed in 1995 by one of the last Democratic majorities of the Texas Legislature and was the result of broader shifting sentiment against high jury awards in civil cases. A 2003 law required punitive damages to be awarded only in cases where the jury unanimously agreed.

β€œThe problem that existed at the time was that there were a lot of lawsuits of questionable value with threats of huge punitive damages,” former state representative Joe Nixon, who drafted the 2003 law, told The Texas Tribune in August. when the jury’s award in the Jones case was announced.

Jones has lost multiple expensive lawsuits β€” totaling nearly $1.5 billion to date β€” for promoting a conspiracy theory that the 2012 mass shooting at a Connecticut elementary school was staged by crisis actors to justify the government taking people’s guns. took away. Parents have said those lies led to a barrage of intimidation and threats in the aftermath of the shooting, which left 20 children and six adults dead.

Jury hearings to decide damages in another Texas case against Jones, which he lost, will begin in March. His Austin-based media company, Infowars, filed for bankruptcy this summer.

Lawyers for Jones told Reuters the ruling went against “dozens of precedents” and they will appeal. An attorney for Lewis and Heslin, Mark Bankston, said after the hearing that the decision showed Jones “cannot run from accountability”.


From the Texas Tribune

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