World

Infowars files for bankruptcy protection as founder Alex Jones faces defamation lawsuits

Infowars has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection as the website's founder, conspiracy theorist Alex Jones, faces defamation lawsuits over his comments that the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting was a hoax.

Jones, who's being sued after suggesting Sandy Hook school shooting was hoax, says he's 'totally maxed out'

Infowars founder, conspiracy theorist Alex Jones, rallies pro-Donald Trump supporters outside the Maricopa County Recorder's Office in Phoenix on Nov. 5, 2020. Infowars, a far-right website, has filed for bankruptcy protection. (Matt York/The Associated Press)

Infowars has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection as the far-right website's founder, conspiracy theorist Alex Jones, faces defamation lawsuits over his comments that the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting was a hoax.

The bankruptcy filing on Sunday in Texas puts civil litigation on hold while the business reorganizes its finances. The filing came a week before a jury in Texas was set to begin considering how much money Jones, who has already lost the defamation lawsuits, should pay the families of Sandy Hook victims.

In its court filing, Infowars said it had estimated assets of $50,000 US or less and estimated liabilities ranging from $1 million US to $10 million US. Creditors listed in the bankruptcy filing include relatives of some of the 20 children and six educators killed in the 2012 school massacre in Connecticut.

The plaintiffs in that case have said they were subjected to harassment and death threats from Jones's followers because he promoted the hoax conspiracy that crisis actors faked the shooting in an effort by the government to take away guns and restrict firearms.

Jones has since conceded that the shooting did happen.

"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, who represents the families in a Connecticut lawsuit against Jones.

Jones says he's 'totally maxed out'

A lawyer for Jones has not returned a message seeking comment. Jones told his Infowars listeners on Monday that he was "totally maxed out" and urged them to contribute money and buy nutritional supplements on his website to keep him on the air.

"It's time for people to be able to see that I don't have $5 million. I don't have $3 million. We have less than $3 million cash, and we need that money to buy future product to be able to operate," Jones said.

Last month, Jones was fined $75,000 US for failing to appear for a deposition in a defamation case, but a judge last week ordered the return of the money because Jones eventually showed up.

Another new lawsuit accuses him of hiding millions of dollars in assets, but a lawyer for Jones has called that allegation "ridiculous."

Neil Heslin, whose six-year-old son, Jesse Lewis, died in the Newtown, Conn., school shooting a decade ago, said he did not immediately know how the bankruptcy would affect his defamation lawsuit against Jones in Texas, where a trial on how much money Jones should pay in damages is set to begin next week.

"It is what it is," Heslin said. "We'll see where it all goes. He's tried everything to avoid everything."

Bankruptcy filings in other Sandy Hook cases

It is not the first time a bankruptcy filing has affected a lawsuit filed by the Sandy Hook families. While suing gunmaker Remington, which manufactured the AR-15-style rifle used in the school shooting, the company filed for bankruptcy twice. In the second case, filed in 2020, Remington's assets were eventually sold off to other companies.

The 2020 bankruptcy delayed proceedings for a year in the Connecticut lawsuit, which sought damages against Remington for how it marketed its rifles. In February, the families of nine victims of the school shooting announced they had agreed to settle the case for $73 million.

now