A Connecticut judge has ruled that conspiracy king Alex Jones and his company Infowars should pay an additional $473 million in punitive damages and attorney’s fees, on top of the nearly $1 billion judgment a jury assessed against him last month. Following a Zoom hearing last week, Judge Barbara Bellis released a ruling Thursday finding that Jones and Infowars must pay $321.6 million in attorney’s fees, attorney’s costs of $1.4 million, and $150 million under the Connecticut Unfair Trade Practices Act.
Jones was sued for defamation by a group of Sandy Hook families in both Texas and Connecticut; he lost all the cases by default last year. The families have won millions of dollars in judgments in two civil trials; a third, in Texas, is not yet set for trial. In the middle of the first trial in Texas, Infowars’ parent company, Free Speech Systems, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.
On Infowars, Jones chortled as he responded to the latest ruling, calling it “absolutely ridiculous.” He insisted, as he has before, that the judgments will be reduced through the appeals and bankruptcy processes.
“I don’t want to say I'm having an orgasm right now,” he added, in a metaphor as baffling as it was off-putting. “But it’s a joke.” Jones insisted he has “hardly anything except a giant audience of patriots and liberty and freedom. I’m super rich in that area.”
In a separate ruling on Wednesday, Judge Barbara Bellis also froze Jones’ assets, as Bloomberg reported, due to concerns that Jones might be hiding company money in shell companies. (In an earlier, ultimately aborted bankruptcy filing by Free Speech Systems, attorneys for the Sandy Hook families accused him of doing just that. The attorneys’ filings presented persuasive evidence that some of Infowars’ company assets were transferred into a series of holding companies and trusts in the names of his family members, and one bearing the initial of Jones himself). In her new ruling, Bellis wrote that, with the “exception of ordinary living expenses, the defendant Alex Jones is not to transfer, encumber, dispose, or move his assets out of the United States, until further order of the court.”
In her ruling, Bellis also addressed the tangled and exhausting history of the cases against Jones, in which he and the company managed to lose in two states by failing to respond to discovery requests from the other side. (Jones and Infowars maintain that they did respond, a position both judges in both states diagree with.)
Bellis also addressed the fact that Jones and Infowars have continued covering and ranting about the trial on air; he and other hosts on the platform have called her courtroom a “kangaroo court” and claiming both trials were rigged against him.
The plaintiffs, Bellis wrote, ultimately had “a low incentive to bring and maintain an action like this,” due to the length and complexity of the suit and the attacks they’e faced during the process from Jones and Infowars.
“The road to reach a verdict here was a tortuous one, involving an unusual number of appeals, an extraordinary number of court filings, and numerous forays into federal court including bankruptcy court,” she added. Moreover, she wrote:
The trial record establishes that the defendants remain in the unique position of having-and continuing to utilize-an immense media platform and audience to continue to target the plaintiffs, as well as mocking the plaintiffs’ attorneys, the court, and the very jury that they selected. It is, quite simply, unprecedented in American jurisprudence, and the court reaches the inescapable conclusion that despite the magnitude of the harms caused to the plaintiffs, there is little incentive to bring an action like this against defendants such as these defendants, who have continued to use their platform to attack.
Jones’ attorney, Norm Pattis, told Motherboard in a statement, “To paraphrase Karl Marx, the verdict was tragedy, this latest ruling is farce. It makes our work on appeal that much easier.”
This story has been updated with comment from Jones’ attorney Norm Pattis.