Talk radio host Alex Jones, best known for spreading government conspiracy theories, has been found liable in a pair of cases stemming from the massacre of first-grade students at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn.
Jones was found to be legally responsible for damages linked to claims he made about the shootings, court documents released on Thursday indicated after a judge ruled the founder of the Infowars website was in default for failing to produce information for parents who brought lawsuits after being ordered to do so.
Judge Maya Guerra Gamble issued the default judgements on Monday, according to CNN, in favor of the parents of two children killed during the Dec. 14, 2012 attack that left 20 six-and-seven-year-old children and six staffers dead. The attack was carried out by Adam Lanza, 20, who was later found to have likely planned the attack for nearly a year and that he was obsessed with mass shootings, death, and firearms.
As for the court’s rulings, they essentially mean that Jones has lost the causes by default. Now it will be up to a jury to decide on the amounts he will owe plaintiffs.
Mark Bankston, a lawyer for the parents, said that the rulings will give his clients “the closure they deserve.”
“Mr. Jones was given ample opportunity to take these lawsuits seriously and obey the rule of law. He chose not to do so, and now he will face the consequences for that decision,” he told CNN in a statement.
After the shootings, Jones falsely claimed that they were a “hoax” and that they had been carried out by crisis actors employed by the government as a means of ginning up more support for, and the eventual passage of, gun control laws during the Obama administration.
A number of families filed defamation lawsuits against Jones following his accusations in Texas and Connecticut courts. A judge in Texas “essentially ruled that Jones and his parent company, Free Speech Systems, ‘intentionally disobeyed’ court orders when they didn’t hand over certain documentations related to lawsuits against him,” CNN reported.
“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,” noted Gamble in one of her opinions. “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 rules.”
In 2019, Jones admitted that the shootings were real during sworn depositions taken as part of the case.
Brad Reeves, one of Jones’ attorneys, did not have any public comment following the rulings. However, in a statement posted to the Infowars site, attorney Norm Pattis described them as “stunning.”
“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,” the statement said. “We are distressed by what we regard as a blatant abuse of discretion by the trial court. We are determined to see that these cases are heard on the merits,” Pattis said.
Jones was ordered to pay $150,000 in legal fees last year after he failed to hand over discovery documents to plaintiffs, the Huffington Post reported, adding that in all, nine Sandy Hook families filed defamation suits against the talk show host and pundit.
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