Alex Jones must pay Sandy Hook family nearly $1 billion in hoax claim, jury says

Oct 12 (Reuters) – Right-wing conspiracy theorist Alex Jones must pay at least $965 million to the families of the numerous victims of the 2012 Sandy Hook mass shooting, a Connecticut jury said on Wednesday. Compensation for falsely claiming to be actors who faked tragedies. .

The verdict, which came after three weeks of testimony in a state court in Waterbury, Connecticut, far exceeds the $49 million that Jones was ordered to pay by a Texas jury in a similar case in August.

The plaintiffs are relatives of 20 children and six staff members who were shot dead at Sandy Hook Elementary School in December 2012. Jones has claimed for years that the Holocaust was part of a government plot to take away guns from Americans.

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Jurors said the plaintiffs should also receive attorney’s fees, which will be determined in November.

In a live broadcast of the verdict readout, Jones vowed to appeal and said his company’s ongoing bankruptcy would protect Infowars at the same time.

“We’re fighting Goliath,” he said.

Lawyers for both parties did not immediately respond to requests for comment on Wednesday.

During last week’s closing debate in Connecticut, lawyers for the families of eight Sandy Hook victims said Jones had profited from the shooting’s lies for years, boosting traffic to his Infowars website and boosting its . Sales of various products.

At the same time, the families suffered a decade of harassment and death threats from Jones’ followers, attorney Chris Mattai said.

“Each of these families was in grief and Alex Jones put his foot on them,” Mattai told jurors.

Jones’ attorneys countered in their closing arguments that the plaintiffs provided little evidence of quantifiable damages. Attorney Norman Pattis urged jurors to ignore political undercurrents in the case.

“This is not a political case,” Patis said, “it’s about the amount of compensation to the plaintiff.”

Douglas E. Mirell, a defamation attorney who was not involved in the case, said the sizable verdict clearly sent a message that the jury was “disgusted.”

“His refusal to admit to the lies and lies that he has spread over and over again over the years has now caught up with him,” Mirrell told Reuters.

The trial was marked by weeks of painful testimony from families who packed galleries every day, taking turns telling how Jones’ lies about Sandy Hook had fueled their grief. An FBI agent who responded to the shooting is also a plaintiff in the case.

Jones, who has since admitted to the shooting, also testified and briefly threw the trial into chaos, as he blasted his “liberal” critics and refused to apologize to his family.

In August, another jury ruled that Jones and his company must pay Sandy Hook parents $49.3 million in a similar case in Austin, Texas, where Jones’ Infowars conspiracy theory website is based.

Jones’ attorneys have said they want to cancel most of the payouts in the Texas case until a judge approves it, saying it’s too much under state law.

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Reporting by Jack Quinn in New York, Tom Hals in Wilmington, Delaware, and Jacqueline Thomson in Washington Editing by Noreen Ward, Will Dunham and Matthew Lewis

Our Standard: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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