Families of Alex Jones and Sandy Hook enter final stretch of bankruptcy fight


Conspiracy theorist Alex Jones proposed paying the Sandy Hook families who won more than $1 billion in damages against him last year a combined total of at least $5.5 million annually for a decade, while the families They intend to liquidate their Infowars media empire, according to competing plans. presented on Friday night.

The proposals, although distant, indicate that efforts to resolve the bankruptcy of Jones and his company are entering a final phase, after dragging on for more than a year. Final hearings in the case are scheduled for late February in a Houston bankruptcy court.

“Today marks the first time Mr. Jones has publicly shared his plan to be held accountable for the harm he has caused these families,” said Avi Moshenberg, a lawyer for the family members who sued Mr. Jones in Texas. “We are very focused on families getting what they are fair and will share our review of Jones' plan in due course.”

An agreement on a bankruptcy settlement plan would help end a long-running court drama that has highlighted the human cost of peddling inflammatory falsehoods in an era of rising misinformation. Jones, through his radio and online show Infowars, has been near the center of many recent disinformation campaigns, including skepticism about coronavirus vaccines and the lie that the 2020 presidential election was stolen from the president. Donald J. Trump.

After 20 first graders and six educators were killed in the 2012 shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, Jones spent years spreading lies that the massacre was a hoax aimed at confiscating Americans' firearms. and that the families of the victims were complicit actors in the plot. The families suffered online abuse, personal confrontations and death threats from people who believed in the conspiracy theory.

In 2018, the families of 10 victims sued him for defamation and were awarded more than $1.4 billion in damages in lawsuits in Texas and Connecticut. When the cases went to trial, Infowars filed for bankruptcy and Jones filed for personal bankruptcy late last year. Since then, families have been fighting him in bankruptcy court.

Despite the massive sentences against him, Jones has not withdrawn from public comment. This week, he was allowed back on social media platform X, where he continued to evade responsibility for spreading Sandy Hook lies, recently upsetting some of the family members. And he has been spending extravagantly, with court documents detailing expenses of up to nearly $100,000 a month.

While important, Mr. Jones' proposed settlement falls far short of what he has been ordered to pay. Documents detailing Mr. Jones and Infowars' finances filed in court suggest that his and his company's net worth is nowhere near what they owe the families.

Under Mr. Jones' plan, a lump sum of at least $5.5 million per year would be shared among the plaintiffs and would be accompanied by a percentage of his and Infowars' personal annual income. After a decade of payments, Mr. Jones' debt would be considered paid off.

Family members who do not opt ​​to settle would still receive a portion of Infowars and Mr. Jones' income, but none of the guaranteed minimum of $5.5 million annually. They would also be allowed to pursue him indefinitely for damages owed to them.

The proposal appears to be based on a model offered by the families' attorneys at a hearing on Nov. 27, when they proposed a settlement of at least $8.5 million annually for 10 years.

Lawyers for Mr. Jones did not respond to requests for comment.

The families' proposal would liquidate Mr. Jones' assets and the proceeds would be distributed among the families who sued him. Crucially, such a settlement would not free Mr Jones from his debt to the families, which would in effect mean that he would pay them for the rest of his life.

The families' plan agrees with a ruling by bankruptcy court Judge Christopher Lopez that Mr. Jones cannot use his Chapter 11 filing to avoid paying damages. Earlier this year, the families asked that Judge Lopez order Mr. Jones to pay them full compensation, without the possibility of a trial or a forced settlement for a lesser amount; In legal terms, to make Mr. Jones' debts to families “non-dischargeable” through bankruptcy. In October, the judge agreed, allowing the families to apply for payment for the rest of Mr. Jones' working life.

The plans presented Friday are the first steps in what is called a confirmation process to reach a final bankruptcy plan. Judge Lopez will hold hearings on the bankruptcy Feb. 27-29 in Houston, from which a final resolution is expected to emerge.

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