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Alex Jones is the latest big defamation case, but here are 5 others you should know

Alex Jones is the latest big defamation case, but here are 5 others you should know

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The trial of Alex Jones, in which the InfoWars host was ordered to pay $4.1 million in compensatory damages to Sandy Hook parents and $45 million in punitive damages for claiming the massacre was staged, stemmed from the same claim that Johnny Depp brought against Amber Heard: defamation.

The parents claimed Jones defamed them by claiming they were actors who had never really lost their children in a mass shooting. Depp claimed Heard defamed him by writing a column accusing him of domestic abuse.

Jones’ trial wasn’t actually about whether he defamed the parents or not. He didn’t respond to a number of court filings so he had already lost by default, and the jury was just deciding how much to make him pay. But if he had contested the claim at trial, he would might have tried to argue he was exercising his free-speech or free-press rights. Opinions, even wild or ill-informed ones, are largely protected by the First Amendment, but wrong or misleading factual statements can be defamatory.

The Supreme Court’s 1964 ruling in New York Times v. Sullivan established the so-called “actual malice” standard for defamation cases by public figures against media outlets: The plaintiff must show the outlet knew a story was false when it published it or recklessly disregarded the possibility that it was false. That’s a tough standard that’s made it very hard to sue the media in the U.S.

Here are a few recent cases that illustrate the arguments parties put forth in big defamation cases and how they can turn out:



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