Thirteen parents of children who died in the 2012 Sandy Hook mass shooting have rejected a settlement offer and vague apology from InfoWars kingpin Alex Jones, according to court records. Jones offered to give each plaintiff $120,000, which the families unanimously rejected; in court filings, they said the offer was “a transparent and desperate attempt by Alex Jones to escape a public reckoning under oath with his deceitful, profit-driven campaign against the plaintiffs and the memory of their loved ones lost at Sandy Hook.”
The families sued Jones in a Connecticut court in 2018 for repeatedly claiming on air that the shooting was a “giant hoax” to advance a gun control agenda; they won a default judgment against him in November. Sandy Hook families in a separate case against Jones in Texas also won a default judgment against him in October. In both cases, the plaintiffs argued that he and the company that owns InfoWars, Free Speech Systems LLC, had failed to respond to basic discovery requests, with what Connecticut Superior Court Judge Barabara Bellis called a “callous disregard of their obligation” to turn over required documents, including financial records. (Jones’ lawyer Norm Pattis argued in a legal filing that the company did try to turn over financial records, but that his deplatforming from various social media sites made it difficult to get some of the analytics data that was requested. Jones has also stated he no longer believes Sandy Hook was a hoax.) Trials to determine damages in both cases are scheduled for later this year.
The settlement offer in the Connecticut case came from Jones personally and a constellation of companies associated with him: Free Speech Systems, Infowars, Infowars Health, and Prison Planet TV. It also included something approaching an apology from Jones, reading, in full: “Mr. Jones extends his heartfelt apology for any distress his remarks caused.”
Jones’ lawyer, Pattis, did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Motherboard. (Full disclosure: Both Pattis and an attorney for Sandy Hook families in Texas informally asked me in the past if I would serve as an expert witness in the cases. I declined.)
Adding to Jones’ truly all-encompassing series of legal headaches, Jones is also in trouble for twice skipping a court-ordered deposition in the Connecticut case. His lawyers said in court filings that Jones was dealing with an undisclosed medical issue; the lawyers for the Sandy Hook families pointed out that Jones wasn’t too sick to call into his show and asked the court to issue a warrant for his arrest. Instead, a hearing is scheduled for Wednesday afternoon, where Judge Bellis will rule on a plaintiffs’ motion to sanction Jones.
In the meantime, Jones appeared in his studio to interview an anti-vaccine naturopathic physician named Sherri Tenpenny. He looked, to the extent that is possible for Alex Jones, perfectly normal.
Update, 3:02 P.M.:
InfoWars issued an unusually even-tempered and carefully worded statement this afternoon, saying the company has been trying to settle the Sandy Hook lawsuits privately for over a year. “We have had no meaningful response from the plaintiffs,” the statement adds, “other than a suggestion that their real aim is to put Infowars out of business.”
The statement adds:
We are not going to be driven out of business by ambitious lawyers or those who hate dissent.
We would like to resolve these cases and stop wasting hundreds of thousands of dollars on legal fees. If the plaintiffs’ lawyers don’t want that because they crave playing the role of hero to mainstream media, let’s at least be honest about what is going on here. This case is becoming less about Sandy Hook than it is about the right to speak freely.
In a slightly less temperate note, the statement also seems to call the lawyers purusing the case “ambulance chasers,” adding: “ Most of the families affected never joined the suits; those who have are no doubt weary of it. The world is on the cusp of war and all the ambulance chasers care about is hatred.” Infowars maintains that the offer to settle remains open, a possibility which has always been unlikely, and seems increasingly so.