HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH/AP) — Infowars host and conspiracy theorist Alex Jones was found liable Monday for damages in lawsuits brought by parents of children killed in the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting over Jones’ claims that the massacre was a hoax.
Judge Barbara Bellis took the rare step of defaulting Jones in the defamation lawsuits for his and his companies’ “failure to produce critical material information that the plaintiffs needed to prove their claims.” The default means the judge found in favor of the parents and will hold a hearing on how much damages he should pay.
Lawyers for the parents claimed Jones and his companies, including Infowars and Free Speech Systems, violated court rules by failing to turn over documents to them, including internal company documents showing how, and if, Jones and Infowars profited from talking about the school shooting and other mass shootings.
“Their pattern of defying and ignoring court orders to produce responsive information is well established,” lawyers for the family wrote in a court brief in July.
Families of some of the school shooting victims sued Jones, Infowars, and others in courts in Texas and Connecticut over the hoax conspiracy, saying they have been subjected to harassment and death threats from Jones’ followers.
Chris Mattei, an attorney representing the families that sued Jones, told News 8, “[Judge Bellis] said that the only option remaining was default. And so now, all of the claims that the families have brought are considered proven, and the only remaining issue for a jury to decide will be the extent to which they’ve suffered as a result of Mr. Jones’ lies…The judge warned him repeatedly that this was likely to happen if he continued to defy her orders. Ultimately this was the path he chose.”
Mattei said the financial records are important because they wanted to show the extent to which Jomes had profited as a result of his lies. Mattei said it would show the motive Jones had in the first place.
Jones’ lawyers have denied violating court rules on document disclosure and have asked that Judge Bellis be removed from the case, alleging she has not been impartial.
A Texas judge recently issued similar rulings against Jones in three defamation lawsuits brought by Sandy Hook families in that state, finding Jones liable for damages after defaulting him and his companies for not turning over documents. Hearings on damages also were ordered.
“Unfortunately, the only remedy available in the Civil Justice System is compensation,” Mattei added. “But really, the jury’s gonna be asked to consider a very human question about what impact this can have on someone who’s lost their child, who’s then been the subject of lies about it.”
The 2012 school shooting in Newtown left 20 first-graders and six educators dead. Jones has since said that he does not believe the massacre was a hoax.