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Sandy Hook defamation lawsuit in Connecticut will resume, judge rules

Norm Pattis
Joe Amon
/
Connecticut Public
Alex Jones attempts to answer questions about his text messages during a trial in Austin, Texas, on Aug. 3, 2022, to determine how much money he should pay in damages to the parents of Jesse Lewis, who was killed in the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting.

A Connecticut lawsuit against Infowars host Alex Jones can proceed after a federal bankruptcy court judge said Monday the case should be remanded back to state court. The decision comes even though the parent company of Infowars, Free Speech Systems, recently filed for federal bankruptcy protection.

“The Plaintiffs’ claims are ready to be tried in the Connecticut Superior Court,” Judge Julie A. Manning wrote in a decision dated Aug. 15.

Jones was sued in 2018 for defamation in Connecticut. The plaintiffs contend they were “profoundly harmed” when Jones repeatedly said the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School didn’t happen and accused the victims’ families of being crisis actors. Jones has already lost the case by default, but it’s up to a jury to decide how much Jones should pay in damages.

Free Speech Systems filed for bankruptcy on July 29. Four days later, while prospective jurors were being interviewed in a Waterbury courtroom, Jones’ attorney told the judge in the case that it was being removed to federal bankruptcy court in Bridgeport.

Monday’s court order followed an emergency hearing requested by attorneys for the families, who argued that the removal to bankruptcy court was another “delay tactic.”

“We’re grateful the bankruptcy court saw through Alex Jones’s brazen effort to block a jury from being empaneled and holding him accountable,” said Chris Mattei, attorney for the plaintiffs, in a written statement. “We look forward to trial.”

The evidence portion of the trial is scheduled to begin Sept. 6. Attorneys could be back in court to pick a jury this week.

While the case in Connecticut was on pause, a Texas jury in another case ordered Jones pay $49.3 million in damages to Neil Heslin and Scarlett Lewis, the parents of Jesse Lewis, a child killed in the 2012 Sandy Hook shooting.

Connecticut Public reached out to Norm Pattis, Jones’ lead attorney in Connecticut, for comment. He has not yet responded.

Pattis had argued that he’d be in an “awkward position” if the Connecticut case continued while the Free Speech Systems bankruptcy filing was going on because he said he would be defending one client in the lawsuit, Alex Jones, but not the other, Free Speech Systems.

Meanwhile, Pattis is due in Waterbury Superior Court on Wednesday. He faces possible discipline as a result of confidential depositions and psychiatric records of the nine parties suing Jones in Connecticut ending up in the possession of Jones’ Texas attorney.

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