(NEW YORK) — Right-wing provocateur and conspiracy theorist Alex Jones must pay more than $1 billion in damages to families affected by the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre in Connecticut, despite Jones’ filing for bankruptcy, a federal bankruptcy court judge has ruled.
Jones filed for Chapter 11 protection in December after he was ordered to pay compensatory and punitive damages for repeatedly defaming the families by claiming for years that the 2012 killings of 20 students and six staff members was a hoax, staged with actors as part of a government plot to seize guns.
Bankruptcy often staves off legal judgments but not if they are the result of willful and malicious injury. U.S. Bankruptcy Court Judge Christopher Lopez in Houston decided that standard was satisfied in Jones’ case.
“[I]n Jones’s case, the language of the jury instruction confirms that the damages awarded flow from the allegation of intent to harm the Plaintiffs – not allegations of recklessness,” Lopez wrote in his ruling.
Jones was convicted by default of defaming the families by accusing them of faking their children’s deaths, being crisis actors, and fraudulently misrepresenting themselves to the public at large. The verdict determined Jones harmed the families by spreading lies about them to his InfoWars website and program audience, and to the public by urging people to investigate the alleged hoax.
“The families are pleased with the Court’s ruling that Jones’ malicious conduct will find no safe harbor in the bankruptcy court. As a result, Jones will continue to be accountable for his actions into the future regardless of his bankruptcy,” said Chris Mattei, an attorney at Koskoff Koskoff and Bieder, who represents the Sandy Hook families.
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