HOUSTON — A Texas judge has ruled that Infowars host Alex Jones cannot use bankruptcy protection to avoid paying nearly $1.1 billion to families who sued over his conspiracy theories that the Sandy Hook school massacre was a hoax.
The decision is another significant defeat for Jones in the wake of juries in Texas and Connecticut punishing him over spreading falsehoods about the nation’s deadliest school shooting. U.S. District Judge Christopher Lopez of Houston issued the ruling Thursday.
Jones filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection last year and more recent financial documents submitted by his attorneys put his personal net worth around $14 million. But Lopez ruled that those protections do not apply over findings of “willful and malicious” conduct.
“The families are pleased with the Court’s ruling that Jones’s malicious conduct will find no safe harbor in the bankruptcy court,” said Christopher Mattei, a Connecticut lawyer for the families. “As a result, Jones will continue to be accountable for his actions into the future regardless of his claimed bankruptcy.”
An attorney for Jones did not immediately return a message seeking comment Friday.
After 26 people were killed by a gunman at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, in 2012, Jones made a false conspiracy theory a centerpiece of his programming on his flagship Infowars show. He told his audience last year he was “officially out of money” and has asked them to shop on his Infowars website to help keep him on the air.
But Jones’ personal spending topped $93,000 in July alone, including thousands of dollars on meals and entertainment, according to his monthly financial reports in the bankruptcy case. The spending stuck a nerve with Sandy Hook families as they have yet to collect any of the money that juries awarded them.
Sandy Hook families won nearly $1.5 billion in judgments against Jones last year in lawsuits over the repeated promotion of a false theory that the school shooting never happened.
Relatives of the victims testified at the trials about being harassed and threatened by Jones’ believers, who sent threats and even confronted the grieving families in person, accusing them of being “crisis actors” whose children never existed.