Alex Jones must pay Sandy Hook families nearly $1 billion over hoax allegations, jury hears

Oct 12 (Reuters) – Right-wing conspiracy theorist Alex Jones is to pay at least $965 million in damages to numerous families of victims of the 2012 Sandy Hook mass shooting for falsely claiming they were actors who faked the tragedy, a Connecticut jury said Wednesday. .

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

The plaintiffs were parents 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 massacre was staged as part of a government plot to to withdraw the weapons of the Americans.

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

During a live stream as the verdict was read, Jones vowed to appeal and said his company’s ongoing bankruptcy would protect Infowars in the interim.

“We are fighting Goliath,” he said.

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

Lawyers for the families of eight Sandy Hook victims during oral arguments in Connecticut last week said Jones profited for years from lies about the shooting, which drove traffic to his Infowars website and boosted sales of its various products.

The families, meanwhile, have endured a decade-long campaign of harassment and death threats from Jones supporters, attorney Chris Mattei said.

“Each of these families (was) drowned in grief, and Alex Jones stepped on it,” Mattei told jurors.

Jones’ attorney countered in closing arguments that the plaintiffs had shown little evidence of quantifiable losses. The lawyer, Norman Pattis, urged jurors to ignore the political undercurrents underlying the case.

“It’s not about politics,” Pattis said. “It’s about how much to compensate plaintiffs.”

Douglas E. Mirell, a defamation attorney who was not involved in the case, said the sweeping verdict sent a clear message of “revulsion” from the jury.

“His refusal to admit the lies and falsehoods he repeatedly promulgated over many years has now caught up with him,” Mirell told Reuters.

The trial was marked by weeks of anguished testimony from the families, who filled the gallery each day and took turns recounting how Jones’ lies about Sandy Hook had deepened their grief. An FBI agent who responded to the shooting is also a plaintiff in the case.

Jones, who has since acknowledged the shooting took place, also testified and briefly threw the trial into chaos as he railed against his ‘liberal’ critics and refused to apologize to the families.

In August, another jury found that Jones and company must pay $49.3 million to Sandy Hook’s parents in a similar case in Austin, Texas, home of Jones’ Infowars conspiracy theory website.

Jones’ attorneys said they hoped to reverse most of the payment in the Texas case before it was approved by a judge, calling it excessive under state law.

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Reporting by Jack Queen in New York, Tom Hals in Wilmington, Del., and Jacqueline Thomsen in Washington Editing by Noeleen Walder, Will Dunham and Matthew Lewis

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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