Jury awards Sandy Hook father $450,000 for defamation by local conspiracy theorist
[Oct. 16, 2019]
It took the jury nearly four hours to decide on the amount James Fetzer must pay Leonard Pozner, whose son, Noah, 6, was the youngest victim of the Dec. 14, 2012, massacre in Newtown, Connecticut. The award follows Circuit Judge Frank Remington’s ruling in June that Fetzer defamed Pozner with four false statements about the death certificate. The statements appeared in a book Fetzer co-authored and edited, and in his blog.
In his own statement after the jury delivered its decision, Pozner thanked the jury “for recognizing the pain and terror that Mr. Fetzer has purposefully inflicted on me and on other victims of these horrific mass casualty events, like the Sandy Hook shooting,” and emphasized that his case was not about First Amendment protections.
“Mr. Fetzer has the right to believe that Sandy Hook never happened,” he said. “He has the right to express his ignorance. This award, however, further illustrates the difference between the right of people like Mr. Fetzer to be wrong and the right of victims like myself and my child to be free from defamation, free from harassment and free from the intentional infliction of terror.” …
Pozner is among a group of Sandy Hook parents whose defamation case against right-wing conspiracy theorist and “Infowars” host Alex Jones is pending. Pozner has filed other Sandy Hook-related litigation and founded the nonprofit HONR Network, which seeks to counter online hoaxes and harassment.
During cross-examination by Bolton, Pozner said he remains active in efforts to get false information about Sandy Hook removed from the Internet and agreed with Bolton that he’s had some 1,500 videos removed from YouTube. …
Pozner testified that he became aware of Fetzer in mid-2014.
“He was writing about Noah and about me,” he said. “It said a lot of ugly things, and I felt like I needed to defend my son. He couldn’t do that for himself so I needed to be his voice.”
He said Fetzer’s writing caused him to worry about his safety and his family’s safety and how his surviving children could be treated online and in life. One of his two daughters is Noah’s twin. …
Pozner had originally sued Fetzer and his co-editor on “Nobody Died at Sandy Hook,” Mike Palecek, along with Wrongs Without Wremeidies LLC, which published the book under the name Moon Rock Books.
Those defendants later reached out-of-court settlements with Pozner — Wrongs Without Wremedies in June and Palecek last month. Terms of the settlements were not disclosed.
Palecek, in a statement provided by Jacob Zimmerman, said “the court has ruled that the death certificate of Noah Pozner is not a fabrication as stated in the book ‘Nobody Died at Sandy Hook.’ I accept the court’s ruling without appeal, and I apologize for any resulting distress that I may have caused.”
Earlier this year, National Public Radio reported that Dave Gahary, the principal officer at Moon Rock Books, agreed to stop selling “Nobody Died at Sandy Hook” by the end of June and apologized to Pozner’s family, saying he now believed Pozner was telling the truth about Noah.