Oct 18 • 38M

When Being a Pain-in-the-Ass Litigant Backfires

Vexatious plaintiffs and incorrigible defendants are getting their due, from Alex Jones to Steve Bannon to Donald Trump

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Appears in this episode

Josh Barro
Ken White
An irreverent podcast about the law from Josh Barro and Ken White.
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Dear listeners,

It’s been yet another week of serious trouble, with Alex Jones in perhaps the most serious trouble of all — a jury in Connecticut has ordered him to pay $965 million to compensate families of Sandy Hook victims for having defamed them. That’s before the court even gets to punitive damages.

Eye-popping damages awards from juries often get reduced, either by trial judges or appellate courts. But Ken has spoken with some trial lawyers from Connecticut, and they believe this award (or something close to it) is likely to stand under the rules that prevail in that state. That is likely to mean financial ruin for Jones — and an effort that will persist for many, many years as the plaintiffs try to collect as much of that judgment from him as they can. Think of the decades Fred Goldman has spent pursuing whatever assets of O.J. Simpson he can find — but with a judgment in the hundreds of millions instead of the tens of millions.

Ken and I talk about what this judgment is likely to mean for future litigation over speech and disinformation — is this huge award a material deterrent to lying for profit? Will it encourage more lawsuits over speech people merely dislike? — and how Jones’ trial strategy of extending a middle finger to everyone and everything around him came to backfire.

Speaking of persistent courtroom pains-in-the-ass, Donald Trump’s usual strategy of seeking every delay possible isn’t working as well as it once did. The Supreme Court declined to involve itself on behalf of Judge Aileen Cannon as the 11th Circuit moves fairly swiftly toward the likely end of unwinding the delays she’s imposed as the Department of Justice investigates his handling of classified documents. Plus, Judge Lewis Kaplan won’t delay Trump’s planned deposition in the defamation suit brought by E. Jean Carroll; and creating a “Trump Organization II” that isn’t under indictment doesn’t seem likely to protect his businesses.

And Steve Bannon will soon be sentenced in the case where he was convicted of contempt of congress. Bannon avoided producing documents for the January 6 committee, but he isn’t likely to avoid jail or a large fine. Sad!

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Thanks for reading and listening,

Josh

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