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Jones’ Bankrupt Company Facing Another Sandy Hook Damages Trial

Aug. 29, 2022, 8:29 PM

Infowars’ parent company received a bankruptcy court permission to participate in a defamation damages trial over its lies about the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre, dropping previous opposition to taking part in the case.

Judge Christopher Lopez’s decision sets up Free Speech Systems LLC, owned by right-wing conspiracist Alex Jones, to face trial in early September in Connecticut state court over the amount of damages to be paid to the families of shooting victims.

Free Speech had initially refused to participate in the trial, but reversed course after an agreement with Jones and the families.

Lopez, who’s overseeing Free Speech’s Chapter 11 case in the US Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of Texas, said Monday he will lift protection against ongoing litigation for Free Speech Systems.

Generally, litigation against a Chapter 11 debtor is paused in a bankruptcy unless a judge allows otherwise. Free Speech earlier this month had asked the court to deny the Connecticut families’ request to allow the company to take part on the state trial. Free Speech submitted court filings on Sunday, indicating its willingness to undergo trial.

The Connecticut proceedings could add to the potential damages owed by Free Speech and Jones to the victims’ families for calling them crisis actors hired for a hoax.

A Texas trial court earlier this month found Jones and Free Speech liable for nearly $50 million in damages to parents Neil Heslin and Scarlett Lewis for falsely claiming that their son Jesse Lewis’ shooting death was fabricated.

Lopez noted his order doesn’t allow enforcement against Free Speech for any potential damages that may be rewarded in the Connecticut case.

The judge also signed off on applications for Free Speech to hire Pattis & Smith LLC and The Reynal Law Firm PC for the Connecticut trial and how costs will be split between Jones and Free Speech.

A Connecticut bankruptcy court earlier this month ruled that the Connecticut defamation case against Jones could also move forward.

Jones has not filed for bankruptcy protection. Free Speech filed for bankruptcy protection in July.

The case is In re Free Speech Systems LLC, Bankr. S.D. Tex., No. 22-60043, hearing 8/29/22.

To contact the reporter on this story: James Nani in New York at jnani@bloombergindustry.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Maria Chutchian at mchutchian@bloombergindustry.com; Roger Yu at ryu@bloomberglaw.com