Alex Jones and InfoWars were sanctioned in 2019. See my prior post here. Now, Mr. Jones’ motion to dismiss has been denied. Alex Jones has been sued in Texas by three families from the Sandy Hook Elementary shooting. Alex Jones and InfoWars claimed the shooting was not real. Two suits (field by Fontaine and Heslin) allege defamation. A third lawsuit (filed by Lewis) alleges Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress.
Among Jones’ various claims, he argued in court that Texas defamation law requires that the alleged slander be directed specifically at certain persons. It is not enough, argued Jones, that he spoke about the families in general. He needed to mention specific persons, claims his lawyers. The lawyer for the family members argued no, on the contrary that InfoWars accused the families of colluding in a hoax. The family also argued that Mr. Jones’ statements were so reckless that no reasonable publisher would have published those statements without some corroboration. The majority agreed with the family. The court denied the petition seeking review of the lower court opinion. See Yahoo news report here. Two members of the court would have granted the petition for review. The decision was issued without an opinion. See Petitioner’s request for review in InfoWars v. Fontaine, No. 1901029 (Tex. 1/22/21) here.
In a related action, the Supreme Court also denied a petition to review regarding a third lawsuit. The Supreme Court also denied a motion for sanctions. See decision here. But, the decision is very brief and does not include the court’s reasoning.
Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress
In a related suit, Scarlett Lewis, the mother of a child killed in the Sandy Hook Elementary massacre, sued Alex Jones for Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress, not for defamation. On appeal, Alex Jones attacked the lower court rulings in taking what Jones described as an “expanded” view of the tort of intentional infliction of emotional distress. The Supreme Court also rejected that appeal without comment. Alex Jones v. Lewis, No. 19-1050 (Tex. 1/22/21). In this matter, the Supreme Court also denied a motion for sanctions. Plaintiff Scarlett Lewis had asked for sanctions because InfoWars changed its legal position on appeal. Before the lower court, Alex Jones argued that the only appealable issue was whether Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress can lie for someone never named in a specific public statement. But, on appeal to the Supreme Court, counsel for Alex Jones admitted that no individual need be named in a claim of Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress. The Supreme Court denied that motion for sanctions and rejected Alex Jones’ petition for review.
Sio, the two lawsuits go back to the district court to continue with the normal process.