(CN) — The families who won a defamation judgment against radio host Alex Jones told a bankruptcy judge Friday that they intend to bring an emergency challenge against the petitions for bankruptcy protection filed by Jones’ companies.
“What are we doing here?” Randy Williams, an attorney for the families, rhetorically asked at the hearing Friday, contending that any procedural steps the court took would only serve to legitimize the bankruptcy filings he considers illegitimate.
Friday’s proceedings streamed out over video conferencing software, but Williams was there in the green-carpeted room packed with attorneys to represent a group of individuals whose family members died nearly a decade ago in the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, and sued Jones when he said the massacre was a hoax.
For years, the Sandy Hook families have been embroiled in litigation with Jones, saying he defamed them when he falsely said the 26 murdered children and teachers was a hoax, which caused them to endure years of harassment.
Courts in Texas and Connecticut have already ruled that Jones is liable to the Sandy Hook families thanks to sanctions issued in the cases that caused Jones to lise by default judgment. In the case in Connecticut, for instance, the judge said Jones failed to repeatedly comply with discovery orders.
A trial in Texas was scheduled to begin Monday to determine what damages Jones owes the families, while the case in Connecticut was scheduled to move forward later this year.
But the bankruptcy petitions halted the proceedings.
On Monday, three businesses owned by Jones filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection: Infowars, Infowars Health and Prison Planet TV. Attorneys for Jones filed emergency motions asking the court to appoint two former bankruptcy judges as trustees of a litigation settlement trust and authorize the hiring of a chief restructuring officer.
At the hearing Friday, Bankruptcy Judge Christopher Lopez made no ruling and instead scheduled a status conference for next week.
Telling Williams that no motions would go forward at the hearing, Lopez said he would consider any motions that are filed.
“I have a duty to consider the timing of those motions, but somebody has to file something for me to consider it,” Lopez said.
Earlier in the hearing, Lopez said he had some concerns about the plan put forward by the three companies, namely, how third-party contributors would fund the Chapter 11 cases.
Max Beatty, an attorney representing another group of Sandy Hook families suing in Texas, argued that the filings were an attempt to get a release for Alex Jones, to force settlements.
“Let me tell you, I think we have a sinister and unworthy purpose here,” Beatty said.
Kyung Lee, an attorney representing Jones’ three companies, said he was proud of the bankruptcy plan put forward, saying he had heard little more than complaining from the creditors.
“Yes, may have some warts on it and yes, may not be perfect,” Lee said, but it provided for equal sharing among the creditors.
Lee sees bankruptcy court as the proper venue to resolve the claims of the Sandy Hook families because, unlike litigation against the Catholic Church or the Boy Scouts, there are not millions of dollars available to the Sandy Hook families.
Read the Top 8
Sign up for the Top 8, a roundup of the day's top stories delivered directly to your inbox Monday through Friday.