If you've been following recent developments in the world of Alex Jones of conspiracy-focused content platform Infowars, you already know that he was recently slapped with a total of $49 million in damages for spreading laws about the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting that occurred in 2012. The ruling in his defamation case (with more still to come) was in favor of Neil Heslin and Scarlett Lewis, parents of children killed at Sandy Hook, for repeatedly claiming the event was some sort of "false flag." But unfortunately for those parents, the law in Texas where the trial occurred might complicate the question of how much Jones will actually owe.
You might recall that in Johnny Depp's recent defamation case against ex-wife Amber Heard, the amount in damages owed by Heard was reduced compared to that of the jury's decision thanks to certain laws in Virginia about caps on punitive damages within the state. Now, a similar law applies to the Jones verdict, since Texas law caps punitive damages, which make up about $45 million of the $49 million ruling.
Technically, in Texas, punitive damages are capped at $750,000 per plaintiff, meaning Jones would only have to pay $1.5 million plus the remaining $4.1 million in compensatory (rather than punitive) damages. However, the matter is more complicated than that, with attorneys on both sides having their own opinion on how the ultimate award should be calculated. Attorneys for Jones are filing to have the amount reduced, while the parents' attorney Mark Bankston said he'll fight any reductions in court:
"We do not believe punitive damage caps are constitutional as applied to our case and will certainly litigate that issue if necessary."
Criminal attorney Joshua Ritter told Insider that the award would likely be significantly reduced. But we may never know the actual amount Jones pays if the two parties reach an out-of-court settlement on the damages.
Jones still has plenty to worry about even if he doesn't pay the full $49 million he was ordered to by a Texas judge and jury. Ritter adds that Jones's next defamation case is in Connecticut rather than Texas, where the laws are more in the plaintiffs' favor. Whether Jones will attempt to settle out of court there rather than being slapped with another big punitive ruling remains to be seen.