New York CNN Business — Alex Jones owes $965 million to eight families of Sandy Hook shooting victims and first responders. However, it is not clear how much money they will see. Jones won a massive jury award for damages for repeated lying about the Wednesday shooting. Complaints filed in Connecticut State Court were tested for the pain and suffering caused by Jones’ false allegations that the 2012 shootings were staged and that his family and first responders were “crisis actors”. A family member in a similar lawsuit in Texas received a $49.3 million jury verdict in August. However, $45.2 million of that prize is for punitive damages and may be reduced under Texas law. In the Connecticut trial, punitive damages will now be considered by judges rather than juries, said plaintiff’s attorney Christopher Mattei. The judge will also consider what attorneys’ fees you should pay. For this reason, the amount of damage could increase in the coming weeks, Mattei said. Jones, who plans to appeal his verdict, told his Infowars broadcast on Wednesday that he “has no money” to pay the huge sum awarded to the plaintiff by a Connecticut jury. Legal experts said the final amount is likely to be reduced in courts, appellate courts and bankruptcy courts. After being convicted in the primary judgment (but before the damages portion of the trial began), Jones filed for bankruptcy protection with his company, Free Speech Systems, to prevent it from being erased by the judgment. Michael Rustad, a law professor at the University of Suffolk in Boston who studied the jury verdict, said the plaintiff’s counsel could negotiate a reduced settlement with Jones. Rustad said, “After negotiations on the amount the defendants can pay, an agreement can be reached after the dust has been settled.” He said, “Plaintiffs often engage in negotiations after the judgment of the first trial for fear that they may receive less if they go to the appeals court.” But Mattei said he’s not worried about the court ordering a reduction. “In Connecticut, we highly respect the wisdom and judgment of the jury. “I think the judgment is reasonable and justified by the evidence presented,” he said. Rustad said that the plaintiff’s claim was supported by the fact that it was compensatory damages intended to cause plaintiffs to suffer, rather than punitive damages. However, the fact that the award is not for strict economic damages such as lost wages or medical expenses could still be vulnerable to a reduction in court, Rustad said. There were testimonies that the harassment caused by Jones’ broadcast meant that family members would have to pay for increased security, but most of the damage was to compensate for the psychological pain he inflicted on them. The plaintiffs in the case said they sued to prevent Alex Jones from continuing to spread lies and hurt others. “Money is everything Alex Jones cares about, and the only way he can start to explain how he made us feel is to knock on our pockets.” Erica Lafferty, principal Sandy Hook and daughter of shooting victim Dawn Hochsprung, said. Anderson Cooper Wednesday. “It’s to stop him from doing this to other family members.” However, that alone does not prevent the verdict from being reduced. “The jury has tremendous discretion to consider whether the jury’s award is the result of passion or bias,” Rustad said. He added that Jones could be insulted and that the fact that the plaintiff was too sympathetic should not be a factor. “In the judicial system, Alex Jones and Mother Teresa should be treated equally,” Rustad said. CNN legal analyst Paul Callan said that doesn’t mean Jones won’t have to pay the money back. “It’s not uncommon for big judgments to be made,” Callan told Cooper on Wednesday. “But let’s face it. He is responsible for billions of dollars. Even down to $500 million, $300 million would still be a huge sum enough to destroy him financially.” Callan said it would be difficult for Jones to use bankruptcy to protect himself, whatever the final verdict. “If the conduct involved is willful and fraudulent, the courts are very reluctant to seek a judgment through filing for bankruptcy. “So this ruling could rule his head for the rest of his life.” The real question is how much money Jones actually has, and whether the plaintiff will succeed in finding and collecting those funds. In a separate libel lawsuit in Texas last summer, Jones tested that he would suffer financially if the jury prize was only $2 million. However, the economist the plaintiff hired, Bernard Pettingill, Jr., testified that, according to his estimates, Jones’ net worth was between $135 million and $270 million, and that Jones used a series of hull companies to hide his money. . “If you’re a careful investigator, you can expose these scams and track the money and collect it,” Callan said Wednesday after the verdict. Even Mattei admits that Jones cannot immediately pay the full amount of the verdict. “It’s unclear whether he or his company will be able to pay him right now,” he said, “but there is a possibility that a judgment will come around him.” “We will track all his assets. Anything will be restored.” – CNN’s Oliver Darcy and Brian Stelter contributed to this report.
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