BRIDGEPORT, Conn. (AP) — A federal bankruptcy judge on Monday cleared the way for a Connecticut defamation lawsuit against Infowars host and conspiracy theorist Alex Jones to move forward.
The lawsuit was filed by relatives of some of the victims of the 2012 massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. Jones has falsely claimed that the nation’s deadliest school shooting — in which 20 students and six teachers were killed — was a hoax.
Jones’ attorney had tried to move the case to federal bankruptcy court instead of continuing the case in Connecticut state court. The move brought the first day of jury selection to an abrupt halt earlier this month.
However, Monday’s ruling by Judge Julie Manning essentially allows the plaintiffs to continue the defamation lawsuit against Jones as an individual, without Free Speech Systems, the company Jones owns, and the Connecticut case. I the defendant.
“Plaintiffs’ rights to continue this action in the Connecticut Superior Court should not be disturbed,” Manning wrote in the decision, adding that the plaintiffs’ damages claims are ready for trial.
A message was left with Jones’ attorney Norm Petts seeking comment.
The plaintiffs’ attorney, Chris Mattei, praised the bankruptcy judge’s decision. “We are grateful that the bankruptcy court allowed Alex Jones’ brazen attempt to impanel a jury and prevent him from being held accountable. We look forward to the trial,” he said in a written statement.
Free Speech Systems filed for bankruptcy in Texas about a week before Jones’ attorney tried to move the case to Connecticut.
A Texas jury this month ordered Jones to pay $45.2 million in damages to the parents of a child killed in Sandy Hook, in addition to another $4.1 million for suffering. He had endured for years claiming it was a hoax.
Jones’ lawyers plan to appeal and try to reduce the amount. Meanwhile, in addition to the case in Connecticut, a damages lawsuit is pending in Texas filed by the parents of another child killed in Sandy Hook.
Before the trial in Texas, Jones had already been found liable in a separate defamation lawsuit filed by relatives of some of the Sandy Hook victims in Texas and Connecticut.
A Connecticut jury will decide what damages Jones is owed in the case, though state law may also limit what she can pay.
The remaining two trials are expected to begin next month after jury selection. Jury selection in the Connecticut case could resume this week, lawyers said.
___ This story has been corrected to reflect that only Free Speech Systems has filed for bankruptcy, not Alex Jones as an individual.