Judge Christopher Lopez has sentenced Infowars host Alex Jones to pay more than $1 billion in damages to victims’ families of the Sandy Hook shooting. Due to the verdict, Jones will have to labor for the rest of his life to repay the families who successfully sued him for defamation last year and were awarded record-breaking damages.
The decision also eliminates Jones’s ability to liquidate Infowars and force the families to take the proceeds, preventing him from starting a new firm.
The families’ attorneys claimed Jones’ actions demonstrated “willful and malevolent” intent when he disseminated rumors about their clients. According to bankruptcy law, courts will not protect debtors from obligations incurred via “willful and malicious” behavior. Judge Lopez granted the families of nine victims who sued Jones in Connecticut approximately $1.1 billion in damages. In the Connecticut case, however, he disallowed $323 million in attorneys’ fees and expenses, finding that the trial record could not prove that the damages resulted from “willful and malicious” acts.
Judge Lopez determined that a trial is necessary to determine whether or not the $44 million in punitive damages, the bulk of the award, fulfills the “willful and malicious” standard in the Sandy Hook litigation in Texas, which was won by Neil Heslin and Scarlett Lewis, whose son Jesse Lewis was killed in the massacre. Jones’s attorneys contended that their client was not targeting individual families but rather “the deep state” and that the idea that Jones acted intentionally and maliciously should be assessed on its own merits.
Chapter 11 bankruptcy under the Small Business Reorganization Act’s more forgiving Subchapter V is what Infowars used. Before Thursday’s verdict, if negotiations had broken down, the company could have been liquidated, with the families receiving a portion of the losses and Mr. Jones free to establish a new business. The current value of Mr. Jones’ assets is probably insufficient to cover the damages in total, so negotiations for a settlement continue.