WASHINGTON — The Infowars fabulist Alex Jones filed for Chapter 11 personal bankruptcy on Friday, citing nearly $1.5 billion in damages juries awarded this year to the families of Sandy Hook shooting victims, who won a series of defamation cases against Mr. Jones after he lied for years about the school shooting.
The filing in the Southern District of Texas in Houston comes atop the bankruptcy filing by Free Speech Systems, Infowars’ parent company, in late July. The new filing could further delay payment of the verdicts for the families, who would need to seek payment through the bankruptcy courts alongside other creditors. But it could also force a greater degree of scrutiny on the finances of Mr. Jones’s empire.
For more than four years of the Sandy Hook litigation, Mr. Jones has stonewalled the courts on providing business records, financial information and other records. In a separate lawsuit, the victims’ families have accused Mr. Jones of improperly siphoning assets from his business and channeling them to himself and his family. He will now ostensibly be required to reveal more about those assets.
Bankruptcy can be used to wipe out debts, but not if they result from “willful or malicious injury” caused by the debtor. Jones’s lies appear to meet that standard, said Susan Block-Lieb, a professor of bankruptcy law at Fordham University School of Law.
“Defamation is pretty clearly an intentional tort – it is especially clear in Alex Jones’s case,’ Block-Lieb said.
The filing also comes with risk for Jones, who will have to disclose all of his assets in court, said bankruptcy lawyer Sidney Scheinberg.
“Now that he’s filed for bankruptcy, his assets are an open book,” Scheinberg said. “If you hide assets in a bankruptcy case, that’s a federal crime.”
Chris Mattei, an attorney representing Sandy Hook families in Connecticut, called the Friday bankruptcy filing a “cowardly” move in a statement to The Post.
“The bankruptcy system does not protect anyone who engages in intentional and egregious attacks on others, as Mr. Jones did,” Mattei said. “The American judicial system will hold Alex Jones accountable, and we will never stop working to enforce the jury’s verdict.”