Verdicts & Settlements
Can Infowars host Alex Jones pay nearly $965M verdict for Sandy Hook lies? He spent $80K to get to trial, bankruptcy filings show
Mark Bankston, a lawyer for Neil Heslin and Scarlett Lewis, asks Infowars host Alex Jones questions about text messages during trial at the Travis County Courthouse in Austin, Texas, in August. Photo by Briana Sanchez/The Austin American-Statesman via the Associated Press.
Infowars host and founder Alex Jones called the $965 million verdict against him a “joke” during his broadcast Wednesday and suggested that defamation plaintiffs who sued him for lying about the 2012 Sandy Hook shooting massacre in Connecticut won’t be able to collect.
“Do these people actually think they’re getting any money?” Jones asked before seeking to raise money from his audience, the New York Times reports. “For hundreds of thousands of dollars, I can keep them in court for years. I can appeal this stuff,” he said.
Jurors on Wednesday found Jones liable for claiming that mass shooting at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, was a staged hoax intended to restrict gun rights, report the Washington Post, Law360 and a second New York Times story. Twenty first graders and six school staff members were killed.
According to the New York Times, Jones likely does not have the money to pay the verdict. His business empire has been estimated to be worth no more than $270 million. And Jones’ parent company, Free Speech Systems, claims in a bankruptcy document that it owes $54 million.
Sandy Hook families claim in bankruptcy filings that Jones is hiding assets to avoid paying judgments, the New York Times reports in other stories here and here. The families are challenging as a fraudulent transfer the series of $54 million in payments that Free Speech Systems made to another company owned “directly and indirectly by Mr. Jones and his parents,” according to the New York Times.
U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Christopher M. Lopez in the Southern District of Texas expanded the duties of the bankruptcy trustee monitoring the case last month after criticizing high personal spending by Jones and a lack of candor by his company, the New York Times reported at the time.
As an example of lavish spending, Lopez said Jones spent $80,000, supposedly for security, in connection with his Connecticut trial. According to the New York Times, Jones “and his entourage flew to Waterbury in a private jet; they stayed in a rented villa with a pool and tennis court.”
Jones was found liable by default last year in the Connecticut case and two other Sandy Hook lawsuits because he failed to comply with discovery. That left the determination of damages the only remaining issue. In a Texas lawsuit, jurors awarded defamation plaintiffs $49 million in August. A third case is pending.
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