BRIDGEPORT, Conn. (AP) — A federal bankruptcy judge on Monday cleared the way for a defamation lawsuit in Connecticut to proceed against Infowars host and conspiracy theorist Alex Jones.
The case was filed by relatives of some victims of the 2012 massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. Jones has falsely claimed that the nation’s deadliest school shooting — which killed 20 students and six educators — was a hoax.
Jones’ lawyer had sought to transfer the case to a federal bankruptcy court, rather than continue the case in Connecticut state court. That move brought the first day of jury selection to a sudden halt earlier this month.
However, Monday's ruling by Judge Julie Manning essentially allows the plaintiffs to continue the defamation lawsuit against just Jones as an individual, without Free Speech Systems, a company owned by Jones and a defendant in the Connecticut case.
“The plaintiffs’ rights to have that process continue in the Connecticut Superior Court should not be disturbed,” Manning wrote in the decision, adding that the plaintiffs’ claims for damages were ready for trial.
A message was left seeking comment with Jones’ attorney, Norm Pattis.
Chris Mattei, an attorney for the plaintiffs, praised the bankruptcy judge's decision. “We're grateful the bankruptcy court saw through Alex Jones's brazen effort to block a jury from being empaneled and holding him accountable. We look forward to trial,” he said in a written statement.
Free Speech Systems filed for bankruptcy in Texas about a week before Jones' lawyer sought to have the Connecticut case transferred.
A Texas jury this month ordered Jones to pay $45.2 million in punitive damages to the parents of one of the children killed at Sandy Hook, in addition to another $4.1 million he must pay for the suffering he put them through by claiming for years that the shooting was a hoax.
Jones’ attorneys plan to appeal and try to lower the amount. Meanwhile, besides the case in Connecticut, a trial for damages is pending in Texas that was filed by the parents of another child killed at Sandy Hook.
Before the trial in Texas, Jones had already been found liable in a separate defamation lawsuit in Texas and another in Connecticut by relatives of some of the Sandy Hook victims.
The Connecticut jury will decide what, if any, damages Jones owes in that case, although state law could also limit what he would have to pay.
The two remaining trials are expected to begin next month, after juries are selected. Jury selection in the Connecticut case could resume this week, lawyers said.
___ This story has been corrected to show that only Free Speech Systems filed for bankruptcy, not Alex Jones as an individual.