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Conspiracy theorist Alex Jones ordered to pay further $45m to parents of a Sandy Hook shooting victim
6 August 2022, 01:47
Conspiracy theorist Alex Jones has been ordered to pay a further $45m to the parents of a Sandy Hook shooting victim after falsely calling the massacre a hoax.
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Jones was ordered to pay the huge sum to the family of slain six-year-old Jesse Lewis, who was one of 26 people - 19 children and six educators - killed in the deadliest classroom shooting in US history.
It came in addition to the $4 million (£3.4m) in compensatory damages the InfoWars host was ordered to pay on Thursday to parents Neil Heslin and Scarlett Lewis.
However, the amount is less than the $150 million (£124m) sought by the pair.
The trial is the first time Jones has been held financially liable for peddling lies about the 2012 attack in Newtown, Connecticut.
In the final phase of the two-week trial, the Austin jury came back and tacked on an additional $45.2 million (£37.4m) in punitive damages - intended to punish defendants for particularly bad conduct.
A high punitive award is also seen as a chance for jurors to send a wider societal message and a way to deter others from the same conduct in the future.
Lawyers for the family had urged jurors to hand down a financial punishment that would put Infowars out of business.
"You have the ability to stop this man from ever doing it again," Wesley Ball told the jury.
It is unclear how much money Jones and Infowars' parent company, Free Speech Systems, have.
An economist hired by the plaintiffs testified that Jones and the company are worth up to $270 million (£224m), suggesting that Jones was still making money.
But he testified that any award over $2 million (£1.6m) would "sink us".
Free Speech Systems filed for bankruptcy protection during the trial's first week.
Jones still faces two other defamation lawsuits from Sandy Hook families in Texas and Connecticut.