What sort of person seeks to profit from the murder of dozens of children? Twenty of the victims were between 6 and 7 years old. Yet, for years, Alex Jones sought to profit from the deaths of children killed at Sandy Hook Elementary. In so doing, he inflicted emotional torment on their families. For this, a jury in a Connecticut district court has awarded $965 million in compensatory damages to 15 different plaintiffs, all family members of Sandy Hook victims and one FBI agent. The jury will next decide on punitive damages. The jury verdict applies to both Alex Jones and his company, Free Speech Systems LLC. Free Speech Systems has already filed for bankruptcy. It is very likely Mr. Jones will also file for bankruptcy protection. See Reuter news report here.
The jury awarded $120 million to Robbie Parker, father to the murdered Emilie Parker. For years, Mr. Jones excoriated Mr. Parker as an actor. Jones said Parker’s tribute to his daughter the day after the shooting was “disgusting.”
I previously wrote about this second trial here. This is surely the largest defamation verdict ever. Defamation cases are notoriously difficult to win.
Jones will surely appeal. But, even a major reduction in the total will still result in a large verdict. And, we still have not seen a decision on punitive damages. A similar reduction will likely occur in bankruptcy court. The bankruptcy court cannot pay the entire amount, but the Jones estate will amount to millions of dollars. One estimate is that he has some $130-$200 million in assets.
But, the larger question remains, Why? Why would someone embark on such a mean-spirited, brutal crusade? The answer to that question may not emerge for years.