EXPLAINER: Jurors weigh cost of Alex Jones’ Sandy Hook lies

Oct 6, 2022, 10:00 AM | Updated: Oct 7, 2022, 2:55 pm

Infowars founder Alex Jones appears in court to testify during the Sandy Hook defamation damages tr...

Infowars founder Alex Jones appears in court to testify during the Sandy Hook defamation damages trial at Connecticut Superior Court in Waterbury, Conn. Thursday, Sept. 22, 2022. Jones was found liable last year by default for damages to plaintiffs without a trial, as punishment for what the judge called his repeated failures to turn over documents to their lawyers. The six-member jury is now deciding how much Jones and Free Speech Systems, Infowars’ parent company, should pay the families for defaming them and intentionally inflicting emotional distress. (Tyler Sizemore/Hearst Connecticut Media via AP, Pool)

(Tyler Sizemore/Hearst Connecticut Media via AP, Pool)

WATERBURY, Conn. (AP) — For a decade, the parents and siblings of people killed in the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting have been tormented and harassed by people who believe the mass shooting was a hoax.

How do you put a price tag on their suffering?

That’s part of the task faced by a Connecticut jury that has been asked to decide how much Infowars host Alex Jones and his company should pay for spreading a conspiracy theory that the massacre never happened.

The six jurors deliberated for less than an hour Thursday before breaking for the evening. They didn’t reach a verdict Friday and are scheduled to resume work next week.

Jones now acknowledges his conspiracy theories about the shooting were wrong, but says he isn’t to blame for the actions of people who harassed the families. His lawyers also say the 15 plaintiffs have exaggerated stories about being subjected to threats and abuse.

Here are some questions and answers about the deliberations.


No. A judge has already ruled that Jones is liable for defamation, infliction of emotional distress, invasion of privacy and violating Connecticut’s unfair trade practices law. The jury’s job is to decide how much he owes for harming the people who sued him over his lies.


Jones, who lives in Austin, Texas, could be ordered to pay as little as $1 to each plaintiff or potentially hundreds of millions of dollars to them. The decision will be based on whether the jury determines the harm to the families was minimal or extensive.

Christopher Mattei, a lawyer for the plaintiffs, said the jury should award the plaintiffs at least $550 million. Jones’ lawyer, Norm Pattis, says any damages awarded should be minimal.


In her instructions to the jury, Judge Barbara Bellis said there are no mathematical formulas for determining dollar amounts. Jurors, she said, should use their life experiences and common sense to award damages that are “fair, just and reasonable.”

The jury, however, heard evidence and testimony that Jones and his company, Free Speech Systems, made millions of dollars from selling nutritional supplements, survival gear and other items. A company representative testified it has made at least $100 million in the past decade.


Jurors could award both compensatory and punitive damages.

Compensatory damages are often meant to reimburse people for actual costs such as medical bills and income loss, but they also include compensation for emotional distress that can reach into the millions of dollars.

Punitive damages are meant to punish a person for their conduct. If the jury decides Jones should pay punitive damages, the judge would determine the amount.


No, and yes. The state does not limit compensatory damages, while punitive damages are limited in many cases to attorney’s fees and costs. So if the jury says Jones should pay punitive damages, he would potentially have to shell out hundreds of thousands of dollars for the Sandy Hook families’ lawyers’ costs.


No. At a similar trial in Texas in August, a jury ordered the Infowars show host to pay nearly $50 million to the parents of one of the children killed in the school shooting for pushing the lie that the massacre was a hoax.

But legal experts say Jones probably won’t pay the full amount. In most civil cases, Texas law limits how much defendants have to pay in “exemplary,” or punitive, damages to twice the “economic damages” plus up to $750,000. But jurors are not told about this cap. Eye-popping verdicts are often hacked down by judges.

A third trial in Texas involving the parents of another child slain at Sandy Hook is expected to begin near the end of the year.


Find AP’s full coverage of the Alex Jones trial at: https://apnews.com/hub/alex-jones

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


Photo: Israeli soldiers drive a tank near the Israeli-Gaza border, in southern Israel, Wednesday, J...

Jack Jeffery, The Associated Press

8 Israeli soldiers killed in southern Gaza in deadliest attack on Israeli forces in months

An explosion in Gaza killed eight Israeli soldiers, the military said Saturday, making it the deadliest attack on Israeli forces in months.

6 hours ago

Juanita Beach Kirkland...

Kathy McCormack and Nick Perry, The Associated Press

‘Tis the season for swimming and bacteria alerts in lakes, rivers

With summer about to start, many people flocking to their favorite swimming holes may also want to read up on bacteria warnings.

1 day ago

Image: Members of the Makah Indian tribe paddle away from the rising sun as they head from Neah Bay...

Associated Press

Washington’s Makah Tribe clears major hurdle toward resuming traditional whale hunts

The U.S. granted the Makah Indian Tribe a long-sought waiver that helps clear the way for its first sanctioned whale hunts since 1999.

2 days ago

jerry west...

Tim Reynolds, The Associated Press

Jerry West, a 3-time Hall of Fame selection and the NBA logo, dies at 86

Jerry West, a three-time Basketball Hall of Fame inductee whose silhouette is considered to be the basis of the NBA logo, died Wednesday morning.

4 days ago

Photo: Construction vehicles are parked outside of the Station U & O building on Tuesday, June 11, ...

Haleluya Hadero, The Associated Press

Amazon adds $1.4B to affordable housing fund for regions where it has corporate offices

Amazon is adding $1.4B to a fund for building more affordable housing in regions where the company has major corporate offices.

4 days ago

hunter biden...

Randall Chase and the Associated Press

Hunter Biden convicted of all 3 felony charges in federal gun trial

Hunter Biden has been convicted of all three felony charges related to the purchase of a revolver in 2018, but no sentencing date was set.

5 days ago

EXPLAINER: Jurors weigh cost of Alex Jones’ Sandy Hook lies