As correspondent Drew Griffin explained on CNN, Thursday’s award in Texas was for compensatory damages. He painted the $4.1 million as a big disappointment: “Now, that does sound like a lot of money, but the parents were asking for $150 million,” Griffin said.
However, there seems to be a good reason for the lower award. The compensatory damages is supposed to be for actual damages, i.e. money spent or costs because of Jones calling the Sandy Hook massacre a hoax. Mitchell Epner, a former federal prosecutor and media law expert, told Law & Crime, “The actual damages were always going to be difficult to quantify, because they were all non-cash damages.” He said the two plalintiffs, the parents of a 6-year-old Sandy Hook victim “didn’t put in evidence of cash damages, not even how much was being paid for mental health services, since that’s being defrayed by Sandy Hook funds.” But Epner also pointed out that $4.1 million is a lot more than what Jones testified he could afford.
The punitive damages is a different story. “Punitive damages are designed to punish especially harmful behavior and tend to be granted at the court’s discretion, and are sometimes many multiples of a compensatory award,” The New York Times reports.
If anyone deserves a severe punishment for harmful behavior, it’s Jones.
Then there are the two trials in Connecticut by other Sandy Hook parents seeking damages from Jones. They are scheduled for next month but may be delayed because his company filed for bankruptcy last week.