Infowars Alex Jones liable for damages in Sandy Hook lawsuits judge rules

Jury will now consider damages after far-right conspiracy theorist failed to produce documents for the court cases

The Guardian/October 1, 2021

By Jessica Glenza

A Texas judge ruled the far-right conspiracy theorist and Infowars host Alex Jones is liable for damages to families of children killed in the 2012 Newtown massacre in two lawsuits, after he repeatedly refused to produce documents for the court cases.

The rulings are “default judgments”, or rare de facto losses, because of Jones’s repeated failure to comply with discovery, or the process of producing documents for a court case. The court will convene a jury to consider damages.

“The court finds that defendants’ failure to comply … is greatly aggravated by [their] consistent pattern of discovery abuse throughout similar cases pending before this court,” wrote the Texas judge, Maya Guerra Gamble, in a judgment reported by CNN.

“The court finds that defendants’ discovery conduct in this case is the result of flagrant bad faith and callous disregard for the responsibilities of discovery under the rule,” she wrote.

In 2012, a shooter with an AR-15-style rifle entered Sandy Hook elementary school and shot and killed 26 people, including six educators and 20 small children in Newtown, Connecticut.

In the years that followed, families would be plagued by death threats and harassment, prompted by conspiracy theories that the shooting was staged – with Jones among the most high-profile promoters of such baseless claims.

In just one example, Jones would tell listeners in 2014, “The whole thing was fake.” He continued, “It just pretty much didn’t happen”. The subjects of such lies, such as the Sandy Hook parent Lenny Pozner, were in some instances forced to move multiple times to dodge threats made by followers of conspiracy theorists such as Jones.

In one instance, a Florida woman was sentenced to jail after sending Pozner multiple death threats. As part of the ruling against her, she was barred from accessing the Infowars website, the Huffington Post reported.

The suits are among several brought by Sandy Hook families seeking to hold gunmakers and conspiracy theorists accountable.

In a separate case in 2020, Jones was ordered to pay $100,000 to the family of a Sandy Hook shooting victim, after he failed to produce witnesses for the suit. In another case against conspiracy theorists, Pozner was awarded a $1.1m judgement against two men who authored a book called Nobody Died at Sandy Hook.

Sandy Hook families have also sued the gunmaker Remington. In July, the company offered $33m to settle the case, which alleges the gunmaker’s marketing campaign was meant to appeal to disturbed young men like the one who committed the massacre.

Despite his repeated claims, Jones said in a 2019 court deposition that he now believes, “Children died, and it’s a tragedy.”. However, in a statement posted to the Infowars website on the default judgments, Infowars’ tone was still defiant.

“The trial court’s entry of a default in these cases is stunning,” said Infowars’ attorney, Norm Pattis, in an article which described the decision as from a “Democrat judge” and “100% unconstitutional”.

“It takes no account of the tens of thousands of documents produced by the defendants, the hours spent sitting for depositions and the various sworn statements filed in these cases.”

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