Infowars has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy as website founder and conspiracy theorist Alex Jones faces defamation lawsuits over his comments that the Sandy Elementary School shooting Hook was a hoax.
AUSTIN, Texas — Alex Jones’ company, Infowars, filed for bankruptcy after the conspiracy theorist lost libel lawsuits over his comments that the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre was a hoax.
Jones filed for Chapter 11 protection in Texas and told his listeners on Monday that he was “totally maxed out” financially. He urged his audience to contribute money or buy products on his Infowars website.
Lawyers for the Sandy Hook families have accused Jones of trying to hide millions of dollars in assets as juries later this year are expected to determine how much he should pay in damages.
Here’s what you need to know:
WHAT DOES ALEX JONES CLAIM?
Infowars told the bankruptcy court that it had assets estimated at $50,000 or less and liabilities estimated at between $1 million and $10 million. Creditors listed in the filing include relatives of some of the 20 children and six educators killed in the 2012 school massacre in Connecticut.
Two other Jones-related companies, Prison Planet TV and IW Health, have also filed for bankruptcy.
An InfoWars attorney did not return messages seeking comment, but Jones has addressed the bankruptcy in recent days on his show. He was banned from major social media platforms for hate speech and abusive behavior.
“We have less than $3 million in cash and we need that money” to operate, Jones said.
WHAT IS JONES FACED?
Jury selection was due to begin next week in Austin in a trial to determine how much Jones should pay the families of the Sandy Hook victims. He faces similar trials in Connecticut later this year.
Plaintiffs in those cases say they were harassed and threatened with death by Jones supporters because he promoted the hoax plot that the crisis actors staged the shooting as part of a federal government effort to remove guns and restrict guns.
Jones has since acknowledged that the shooting did take place.
“Alex Jones is only delaying the inevitable: a public trial in which he will be held accountable for his for-profit campaign of lies against the Sandy Hook families who filed this lawsuit,” said Christopher Mattei, who represents the families in a Connecticut. lawsuit against Jones.
Neil Heslin, whose 6-year-old son Jesse Lewis died in the Newtown school shooting, said he did not immediately know how bankruptcy would affect his libel suit against Jones in Texas,
“It is what it is,” Heslin said. “We will see where this all leads. He tried everything to avoid everything.
WHAT ARE JONES’ FINANCES?
A separate lawsuit earlier this month accused Jones of hiding millions of dollars in assets. A lawyer for Jones called the allegation “ridiculous”.
Jones was fined $75,000 last month for failing to appear for deposition in a defamation case, but a judge last week ordered the money returned because Jones eventually present.
Bankruptcy court records claim Jones paid $10 million in legal fees. He claimed in court records last year that he had a negative net worth of $20 million, but lawyers for the Sandy Hook families painted a different financial picture.
Court records show Jones’ Infowars store, which sells nutritional supplements and survival gear, grossed more than $165 million between 2015 and 2018.
“He’s going to get a lot more scrutiny in bankruptcy court than in state court,” said Sid Scheinberg, bankruptcy attorney with Godwin Bowman in Dallas, who isn’t involved in the case. the Jones case.
WHAT EFFECT WILL THIS HAVE ON SANDY HOOK CASES?
The Chapter 11 filing suspends civil lawsuits while the company reorganizes its finances.
This isn’t the first time a bankruptcy filing has affected a lawsuit brought by the Sandy Hook families. While suing gunmaker Remington, which made the AR-15-style rifle used in the school shooting, the company has twice filed for bankruptcy. In the second case filed in 2020, Remington’s assets were ultimately sold to other companies.
The 2020 bankruptcy delayed proceedings by a year in the Connecticut lawsuit, which was seeking damages from Remington for the way it marketed its guns. In February, the families of nine school shooting victims announced they had agreed to settle the case for $73 million.
Collins reported from Hartford, Connecticut.