The award, which the judge could reduce, came one day after a jury settled on $4.1 million. USD damages.
Jurors began deliberating Friday around 12:30 p.m. CT after Judge Maya Guerra Gamble reminded him that Jones had already been found liable for defamation and “intentional infliction of emotional distress” on Lewis’ parents, Scarlett Lewis and Neil Heslin, in his ruling.
In an emotional closing speech Friday, Lewis and Heslin’s attorney, Wesley Todd Ball, told the jury: “We are asking you to send a very simple message, and that is to stop Alex Jones. Stop the monetization of misinformation and lies. Please.
Ball urged jurors to “deter Alex Jones from ever doing such a horrible thing again” and to “deter others who might want to step into his shoes.”
Jones’ attorney, Federico Andino Reynal, argued for a much lower amount, suggesting that jurors should multiply Jones’ alleged $14,000 an hour salary and the 18 hours he said Jones spoke about Sandy Hook on Infowars by about a quarter of a million dollars.
Punitive damages are punishment for the defendant’s conduct. Jones, head of the conspiracy media outlet Infowars, repeatedly lied about the Sandy Hook massacre. He fueled conspiracy theories about the victims and their families, prompting numerous defamation lawsuits. He has since admitted that a mass shooting took place.
Jones claimed in his testimony that the jury’s award of just $2 million would ruin him financially. But on Friday morning, jurors heard testimony about Jones’ wealth from economist Bernard Pettingill Jr., who estimated Jones’ net worth to be between $135 million and $270 million.
Pettingil Jr., who reviewed several years of records between Jones and Infowars’ parent company, Free Speech Systems, said Jones used numerous front companies to hide his money.
Jones used two large loans to make it look like he was broke when he really wasn’t, Pettingill Jr. testified.
“Alex Jones knows where the money is, he knows where the money has gone and he knows that he will ultimately benefit from that money,” Mr Pettingill said.
After one juror asked about the difference between Jones’ money and his company’s money, Pettingill Jr. said, “You can’t separate Alex Jones from the companies. He is a company.”
Jones “made money off his mast,” he added, even suggesting that Jones could teach a college course on his technique.
Jones’ fear-mongering rants about Infowars have been associated with ads for supplements, documentaries and other products sold by Infowars over the years. Pettingill, Jr. said the money was funneled and identified nine different companies owned by Jones.
“He’s a very successful man, and he’s been spreading hate speech and misinformation, but he’s made a lot of money and he’s made a lot of money out of it,” Pettingil Jr. said on the stand. “The way I think about him is that he didn’t ride the wave, he made the wave.
Earlier this week, Jones testified about his alleged financial struggles after social media giants like Facebook and Twitter banned his content from their platforms.
“I remember him saying that, but the records don’t reflect that,” Pettingill Jr. said.
During closing arguments, Ball claimed that Jones had even more money hidden elsewhere, saying that the $4.1 million “He’s probably already recovered donations” from fans, Ball said.