Far-right conspiracy theorist Alex Jones has filed for personal bankruptcy after racking up some $1.5 billion in damages juries and judges have ordered or affirmed he must pay to families of victims of the 2012 shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School, about which Jones has incessantly lied.
Jones helped spread the conspiracy theory that the incident didn’t actually happen as reported. The idea was instead that the incident was staged in furtherance of pushes for gun control, and some of those who believed these delirious ideas have harassed those who lost loved ones in the shooting for years. According to the theory, victims’ families were just acting, and in a recently concluded Connecticut trial on how much to make Jones pay after a judge found him liable by default amid claims of defamation and unfair trade practices, a victim’s parent shared how there was even a threat to dig up his late son’s grave. Jones was sued several times by Sandy Hook families over his lies, and he was eventually found liable by default in all the cases after he refused to sufficiently comply with the discovery process, in which parties to a case can obtain relevant information ahead of trial.
Some of the most recent developments include Texas Judge Maya Guerra Gamble deciding to preserve a $49 million judgment against Jones despite (questioned) state limits to punitive damages. In Connecticut, Judge Barbara Bellis also imposed $473 million in punitive damages after the jury in that case already ordered that Jones pay nearly a billion dollars in compensatory damages.
Jones’s personal bankruptcy filing could constitute an attempted delay tactic, although there is no guarantee it would be successful. There are also questions about the basic reality of tens of millions in claimed debts at Jones’s main company, Free Speech Systems, which has also filed for bankruptcy and is allegedly massively in debt to a firm evidently controlled by Jones and his parents. The debts are supposedly tied to the separate company’s claimed role in procuring supplements Jones sells, and Jones has credited the creation of the firm to liability concerns — although these tens of millions supposedly owed by Free Speech Systems to PQPR Holdings were only suddenly documented after litigation from Sandy Hook families already began.
In the bankruptcy proceedings for Free Speech Systems, lawyers for PQPR have already been arguing for debts in the category owed to the company to be covered before those to interests including the Sandy Hook families who sued. Those owed by Jones will have a similar opportunity to make their case in bankruptcy court following Jones’s personal filing. One lawyer involved in the push against Jones has suggested his side would settle in part for an end to Jones’s broadcasting career. Another, Chris Mattei, who was involved in the Connecticut trial, said their team will “never stop working to enforce the jury’s verdict.” There is a third trial against Jones for damages connected to his Sandy Hook lies scheduled for March next year. After Free Speech Systems filed for bankruptcy, Jones sought protections from the Connecticut damages trial proceeding as scheduled — and lost.