Companies affiliated with conspiracy theorist Alex Jones, including right-wing outlet Infowars, filed for bankruptcy protections on Sunday. The move comes after Jones lost numerous defamation lawsuits for falsely claiming that the Sandy Hook shooting was a hoax.
The bankruptcy filing could pause civil cases against the companies, which include not only Infowars, but Infowars Health (a store that sells nutritional supplements) and Prison Planet, an outlet for British YouTuber and proponent of “new right” (read: nativist) ideology, Paul Joseph Watson.
After the 2012 mass shooting claimed the lives of 26 people, including 20 first graders, Jones falsely described the victims and their parents as “crisis actors” participating in a conspiracy to allow the government to seize guns. Due to Jones’ lies, the parents of the victims were inundated with harassment and death threats. According to the New York Times, the family of Sandy Hook victim Noah Pozner currently lives in hiding due to the persistent harassment they’ve experienced since the shooting.
Jones later walked back his claims after multiple parents filed defamation lawsuits against him, blaming his earlier beliefs on a “form of psychosis.”
In September 2021, Jones lost two defamation lawsuits in Texas after a judge ruled that he had engaged in “persistent discovery abuses” by failing to turn over important documents related to the case, noting that “an escalating series of judicial admonishments, monetary penalties, and non-dispositive sanctions have all been ineffective at deterring the abuse.” In November, Jones lost an additional lawsuit in Connecticut for failing to turn over documents.
It’s unclear what ultimate effect the bankruptcy filing will have, but according to CNN, it could allow the companies to stay in business by giving them a path to offload debts they can’t afford. The Sandy Hook families and their lawyers have previously accused Jones of siphoning off $18 million to shell companies to avoid having to pay damages.
“Alex Jones is just delaying the inevitable: a public trial in which he will be held accountable for his profit-driven campaign of lies against the Sandy Hook families who have brought this lawsuit,” said Christopher Mattei, a lawyer for the Connecticut plaintiffs, in a statement to CNN.
Texas jurors were scheduled to meet this month to determine how much Jones owes the plaintiffs. An additional trial in Connecticut is scheduled to begin in September.