A $965 million jury verdict this week against Infowars founder Alex Jones will considerably ramp up his and Sandy Hook shooting victim families’ focus on using bankruptcy mediation to sort out available assets and payments.
Few believe Jones has $1 billion in assets to pay for the defamation judgment levied against him and his bankrupt company, Free Speech Systems, for his lies that the 2012 elementary school shooting was a hoax. Jones and Free Speech, which owns the right wing conspiracy site Infowars, face another nearly $50 million in a judgment from another defamation case in Texas.
As Jones uses Free Speech’s Chapter 11 to limit liability, representatives for Jones and the company already have agreed to engage in mediation with victim families and a bankruptcy trustee investigating its finances. But the stakes in the court-supervised mediation, recently approved by a judge, just got a lot higher for all parties after the Oct. 12 judgment from a Connecticut state court.
Coming together to land a settlement may provide some monetary closure for the parties duking out in Free Speech’s turbulent and controversial Chapter 11 case. But the talks will keep the spotlight bright on Jones’ ten-digit liability that amounts to a breathtaking public censure and his indefatigable attempts to use bankruptcy law to evade the penalty due.
A resolution that could be possibly achieved in a global mediation will avoid the delay and risk associated with Jones’ likely appeal, said Debra Grassgreen of Pachulski Stang Ziehl & Jones LLP. Instead.
“I would think that this judgment would make the mediation more critical,” Grassgreen said.
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