Defamation | Offensive Speech | Unprotected Speech

Texas Appeals Court Rejects Alex Jones’ Motion to Dismiss Heslin Defamation Suit

Alex Jones of Infowars walks through the halls of the U.S. Senate’s Dirksen Senate office building in Washington, D.C. September 5, 2018. REUTERS/Jim Bourg

See our Deep Dive on Alex Jones, Infowars, and the Sandy Hook Defamation Suits

On March 25th, the Texas Court of Appeals rejected Infowars founder Alex Jones’ motion to dismiss a defamation lawsuit brought by Neil Heslin, whose son was killed in the 2012 mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School. The judge has ordered Jones to pay Heslin $22,250 in attorney fees, making the total amount Jones now owes Heslin just under $150,000.

Heslin sued Jones in April 2018 over false statements he made on his site, claiming that the mass shooting in Sandy Hook was a government hoax and the victims’ parents were “crisis actors”. A number of Jones’ readers went on to harass families of Sandy Hook victims, including the Heslins, causing them significant emotional distress.

Jones has tried on multiple occasions to have the lawsuit dismissed on free speech grounds, albeit with little success. 

See previous story: Alex Jones Ordered To Pay $100,000 In Legal Fees In Defamation Lawsuit

In October 2018, Jones was ordered to pay $25,000 for failing to comply with a discovery order. Then, in December 2019, a Texas district court judge ruled against Jones’ motion to dismiss Heslin’s lawsuit, finding that Heslin had met the standard for defamation under state law. The district judge ordered Jones to pay an additional $100,000 in legal costs to the attorneys representing Heslin.

In his opinion, Judge Scott H. Jenkins affirmed the district court’s denial of Jones’ motion to dismiss.

“We affirm the district court’s dismissal of Appellants’ motion to dismiss, and we grant Heslin’s motion for sanctions and award him $22,250 for attorney’s fees,” Jenkins opinion reads.

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