Judge Blocks Sandy Hook Parents From Alex Jones Payout

REUTERS/Mike Segar
REUTERS/Mike Segar

A federal bankruptcy judge on Thursday blocked efforts by the parents of a Sandy Hook victim to start collecting the $50 million they won in a lawsuit against conspiracy theorist Alex Jones.

Earlier this month, lawyers for the parents of 6-year-old Jesse Lewis obtained an order from a Texas state judge allowing them to immediately start collecting assets from Jones’ company, Free Speech Systems, after the company’s bankruptcy reorganization failed.

However, on Thursday, Southern District of Texas Judge Christopher Lopez put the brakes on those efforts when he said that the state judge’s ruling conflicted with federal bankruptcy law. Lopez sided with a new court-appointed trustee who had accused some Sandy Hook families of attempting a “value-destructive money grab” before he finished the sale of Infowars’ parent company.

Lopez said that the trustee will continue selling Jones’ assets—including Jones’ media site Infowars—then distribute the proceeds equally among all Jones’ creditors. Among the creditors are other relatives of Sandy Hook victims who were awarded more than $1.4 billion in lawsuits over Jones’ false claims that the 2012 mass shooting was a hoax.

Alex Jones Deserves to Lose Much More Than a Billion Dollars

Mark Bankston, who represents Jesse’s parents Scarlett Lewis and Neil Heslin, told The Daily Beast his clients were “frustrated that they will not be allowed to pursue their state courts rights after all.”

“Apparently this case will remain in limbo much to Mr. Jones’ delight while the other group of plaintiffs insist they are entitled to nearly all the recovery, refusing to treat all parents equally,” Bankston, who represents five clients in three cases, said. “Our clients have repeatedly offered to act as equal partners in collections with other plaintiffs against Jones, with all parents collecting an equal amount, but we have been continually rebutted.”

The Associated Press reported that during his Thursday show on Infowars, Jones said he had plans to restart his broadcasts on another platform after Infowars shuts down in the next few months. He called Lewis and Heslin’s efforts in state court “illegal.”

His bankruptcy lawyer, Vickie Driver, said in a statement to The Daily Beast: “Mr. Jones spent over two years trying to pay the plaintiffs more than he had ever made, and none of it was enough. He continues to work with the Trustee to maximize the remaining value of his estate and the Free Speech assets for the benefit of the plaintiffs who want to be paid, and do not seek solely to silence him. As Judge Lopez said on June 14th, these cases were never about shutting down his show, but trying to pay creditors.”

The shocking block is the latest legal maneuver in an ongoing saga to collect money from Jones in two separate lawsuits—one in Texas where he lives, and one in Connecticut where the school shooting took place. While Sandy Hook parents were collectively awarded $1.4 billion in 2022 for the emotional distress and defamation caused by Jones’ hoax claims, they have yet to see any of the money after he filed for bankruptcy in the wake of the dual verdicts.

NBC reported that families in the Connecticut case also opposed the push by the Texas plaintiffs to ask a state judge to compel Free Systems to turn over “all money,” arguing that it could start a fight over which plaintiffs would get Jones’ assets.

“To be clear, the Connecticut Families support an orderly liquidation of FSS's assets and pro rata distributions among FSS's creditors that hold valid claims,” the families wrote in a filing this week in support of the trustee's emergency request. “The Texas Families, quite clearly, do not have the same goals. Rather, they seek preferential treatment and outsized recoveries by attempting to win the very race to the courthouse that they claimed to eschew on June 14.”

Bankston, however, told The Daily Beast that his clients “favored a bankruptcy plan that would pay the families tens of millions while forcing Jones to never speak about Sandy Hook again, but the other plaintiffs also vetoed that plan.” He added that his team would continue to push for “resolution, closure, and peace” for their clients.

“The Connecticut families have always sought a fair and equitable distribution of Free Speech System’s assets for all of the families, and today’s decision sets us back on that path,” Christopher Mattei, a lawyer representing the families in the Connecticut lawsuit, told the AP.

On Thursday, Lopez seemed aware of the ongoing fissure between the two sets of grieving families and declined to start hashing out the dispute in court.

“Let's just follow the rules, follow the code and follow the order,” he said.

Read more at The Daily Beast.

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