Join now for FREE unlimited access to Reuters.com
July 29 (Reuters) – The parent of far-right conspiracy website InfoWars filed for bankruptcy protection in the United States on Friday as the company and its founder Alex Jones face up to $150 million in damages -interest in a lawsuit for longstanding lies he perpetuated about Sandy Hook Elementary. killing at school.
A bankruptcy filing by InfoWars’ parent company, Free Speech Systems LLC, would normally result in a halt to the lawsuit and related litigation. But Free Speech plans to ask a bankruptcy judge to allow the lawsuit currently underway in Texas to continue and is seeking an emergency hearing on Monday, according to a court filing.
Nevertheless, Jones and his company may later try to use the bankruptcy proceedings, started in another Texas court, to limit the amount of damages awarded by a jury.
A bankruptcy filing by three other InfoWars entities in April offered $10 million to resolve the litigation, far less than the Sandy Hook families are seeking. The proposal contemplated legal releases protecting Jones and his company from lawsuits in exchange for payment.
Entities that had previously filed for bankruptcy — InfoW, IW Health and Prison Planet — voluntarily ended their lawsuits in June after the Sandy Hook families dropped them as defendants in the defamation litigation.
Jones was found liable last year in lawsuits brought by the Sandy Hook families after he falsely claimed the 2012 school massacre was a hoax. Read more
The unusual judgments came after Jones defied court orders to turn over documents in the litigation. The cases were then prepared for trials to determine damages, with the first currently pending in an Austin, Texas courtroom.
Jones claimed the shooting, in which 20 children and six school workers were shot dead at the school in Newtown, Connecticut, was fabricated by gun control advocates and the mainstream media. audience. Jones has since acknowledged that the shooting took place.
Free Speech Systems believes it is in its best interests to continue the ongoing damages lawsuit, as substantial resources have been expended on both sides, and the Sandy Hook plaintiffs would likely fight for the lawsuit to continue despite the filing for bankruptcy, W. Marc Schwartz, the company’s restructuring adviser, said in a court filing.
The Sandy Hook families had opposed the previous April’s bankruptcy filing as a “sinister” attempt by Jones to shield his assets from liability. Read more
Explaining the pending bankruptcy filing, Schwartz said the Sandy Hook litigation resulted in InfoWars being rejected by major financial institutions, the internet and social media. The company’s business has suffered, he said.
Mark Bankston, an attorney representing Sandy Hook families, said he looks forward to continuing to present his case to jurors, which is expected to include testimony from the parents of one of the children murdered at Sandy Hook Elementary on Monday.
“Our clients are pleased that despite bankruptcy, their trial is continuing and the jury is returning a verdict,” Bankston told Reuters in a text message. “Now InfoWars is heading straight for its long-awaited judgment.”
Reporting by Mike Spector, Dietrich Knauth and Jack Queen; Editing by Chris Reese and Stephen Coates
Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.