On Thursday, a Connecticut court ruled that right-wing conspiracy theorist Alex Jones must pay $473 million in punitive damages for his false statements regarding the 2012 tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School.
Over $323 million in common law punitive penalties for attorney’s fees and expenses and $150 million in damages under the Connecticut Unfair Trade Practices Act, which forbids unfair competition and deceptive practices, were granted to the families by Connecticut Superior Court Judge Barbara Bellis.
According to Bellis’s judgement, “the evidence further demonstrates that the defendants repeatedly engaged in the behavior and assaults on the plaintiffs for over a decade,” including “witch hunts” throughout the trial. The defendants’ “depravity” and “cruel, continuous course of action” prove that they deserve the worst punishment possible.
An additional $965 million in compensatory damages was granted last month to eight Sandy Hook victim families and a first responder. Punitive damages are awarded at the judge’s discretion under Connecticut law.
Following the 2012 mass shooting in which 26 people were murdered, Jones repeatedly claimed without any evidence that the tragedy had been staged and that the victims’ relatives and first responders were all “crisis actors.”
Several lawsuits were filed as a result of the falsehoods, and a trial concerning the Connecticut claims took place in September and October.
Throughout the trial, the plaintiffs in that case spoke movingly about how the falsehoods had resulted in relentless harassment and added additional misery to the loss of loved ones.
CNN has contacted Alex Jones’s legal representation for comment.
It is not known when or how much of the money will be distributed to the plaintiffs.
Jones has stated his intention to appeal the first Connecticut ruling, arguing that he “ain’t no money” to pay the enormous sum the jury originally gave the plaintiffs.
An earlier verdict in Texas found that Jones and his firm should pay roughly $50 million to two parents from Sandy Hook who sued in that state.
In the face of mounting legal pressure, Jones eventually admitted that the 2012 slaughter had taken place and that he had been responsible for it. However, the families in both the Connecticut and Texas cases won default judgments against him because he disregarded court orders during the discovery phase of the litigation.