Controversial radio and TV personality Alex Jones was found liable Monday for damages in a lawsuit brought by the parents of Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting victims.
Judge Barbara Bellis found Jones liable for damages by default because Jones and his companies, like Infowars, showed "callous disregard" for the rules of discovery. She previously faulted the Infowars host for failing to comply with requests for documents and other procedures.
The ruling sends the case to a jury to award the families damages without a civil trial. It is legal a victory for eight parents of Newtown victims who sued Jones for defamation after he called the elementary school shooting massacre a hoax.
The plaintiffs earlier alleged a "yearslong campaign of abusive and outrageous false statements in which Jones and the other defendants have developed, amplified and perpetuated claims that the Sandy Hook massacre was staged and that the 26 families who lost loved ones that day are paid actors who faked their relative's deaths."
The judge agreed with the families that Jones, Infowars and his other companies failed to turn over documents to the families that they would need to prove their case, as required by law.
"The defendants were ordered to produce the documents," Bellis said during Monday's hearing, which was conducted remotely. "Discovery is not supposed to be a guessing game. What the Jones defendants have produced by way of analytics is not even remotely full and fair compliance."
Jones was similarly defaulted in Texas for failing to turn over documents.
The U.S. Supreme Court had declined to take up a petition from Jones earlier in April, who had challenged legal sanctions imposed on him by a court in Connecticut.
"This callous disregard of their obligations to fully and fairly comply with discovery and court orders on its own merits a default against the Jones defendants," Bellis said.
"While the families are grateful for the Court's ruling, they remain focused on uncovering the truth. As the Court noted, Alex Jones and his companies have deliberately concealed evidence of the relationship between what they publish and how they make money," Chris Mattei of Koskoff, Koskoff & Bieder, which represents the eight families suing Jones, said.
"Mr. Jones was given every opportunity to comply but, when he chose instead to withhold evidence for more than two years, the Court was left with no choice but to rule as it did today. While today's ruling is a legal victory, the battle to shed light on how deeply Mr. Jones has harmed these families continues," Mattei said.
The judge in Connecticut will hold a hearing in August to determine how much Jones will have to pay in damages.
Twenty children and six staff members died in the Dec. 14, 2012, shooting at the Newtown, Connecticut, school at the hands of gunman Adam Lanza.