Right-wing conspiracy figure Alex Jones’ company has already filed for bankruptcy protection, and it’s not clear how much of the staggering $965 million verdict reached Tuesday he’ll actually wind up paying to the 15 plaintiffs in the defamation case about his lies about the Sandy Hook Elementary school shooting.
Jones plans to appeal the massive monetary damages that a Connecticut jury ordered him to pay, which comes after a judgment against him in August awarding $49.3 million to the family of a Sandy Hook victim in a separate case in Texas.
But legal experts say Jones, founder of Infowars — which has been banned by all major internet services — is almost certainly ruined financially.
“We’re talking about such outsized numbers that even if he’s able to bob and weave some, I just don’t see how he winds up anything but basically broke now for the rest of his life,” Harry Litman, a former U.S. Attorney, said in an interview Tuesday with MSNBC. Litman currently is an associate with whistleblower law firm Constantine Cannon in San Francisco.
Jones was sued for defamation by several of the families of Sandy Hook victims after he had claimed the December 2012 shooting in Connecticut — in which 20 children and six adults were killed — was a “giant hoax” perpetrated by “crisis actors,” and that “no one died” in the massacre. He falsely accused the parents of the Sandy Hook victims of colluding with the government in an imagined plot to curtail Americans’ gun rights.
In the Texas case, Jones testified that he would be unable to afford to pay a jury award of even just $2 million. In the same case, economist Bernard Pettingill Jr. estimated Jones has a net worth of between $135 million and $270 million.
In July, Infowars’ parent company, Free Speech Systems, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, revealing that the owners of Infowars had taken out more than $62 million from the business.
“Ain’t no money,” Jones said on his Infowars show Tuesday as the nearly $1 billion verdict was being read (via Mediaite). “Do these people actually think they’re getting any of this money?” He added that he “lost count” of the damages and began selling “vitamineral fusion” from the Infowars store in an effort to raise money.
Norm Pattis, Jones’ attorney, said he intends to appeal the Connecticut jury’s damages award. According to CNN, he called the decision a “dark day for freedom of speech.” “We disagree with the basis of the default, we disagree with the court’s evidentiary rulings,” Pattis said. “In more than 200 trials in the course of my career I have never seen a trial like this.”
Jones, 48, is “almost certainly the most prolific conspiracy theorist in contemporary America,” according to the Southern Poverty Law Center. In 2018, YouTube, Facebook, Spotify and Apple Podcasts banned Jones from their platforms, citing violations of their hate-speech policies.
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