A California jury has awarded Las Vegas casino mogul Steve Wynn $20 million in his slander case against "Girls Gone Wild" founder Joe Francis.
A California jury awarded Las Vegas casino mogul Steve Wynn $20 million in his slander case against "Girls Gone Wild" founder Joe Francis.
According to the suit filed by Wynn, Francis made slanderous comments when he told people that the mega-resort developer threatened to kill him over gambling debts that they had already litigated in court.
At a 2010 hearing in Los Angeles concerning the gambling debt, Francis asserted that Wynn was threatening his life in emails to Quincy Jones, the legendary music producer and an acquaintance of both men. He repeated that claim to TMZ. Wynn sued him again for defamation.
During the trial, witnesses disputed Francis' claims that Wynn was out to kill him over the debts.
After four days, the Los Angeles County Superior Court jury found that Francis knowingly made false statements when he told reporters and others that Wynn threatened to kill him and bury his body in the desert over a $2 million bill he ran up during a multi-day gambling spree in 2007.
"He told lies. He used the media to get it out there," Wynn's lead lawyer, Barry Langberg, said according to the Los Angeles Times.
While neither Francis nor Wynn was present in court for the ruling on Monday, Francis did tell the Associated Press in a phone interview that he is "startled by the jury's verdict because it's totally unfounded and the evidence does not support it."
He added that the judge erred by letting Wynn's attorneys introduce a new claim of slander based on an interview Francis did with "Good Morning America" after the trial started. The panel awarded Wynn $11 million in damages on that claim alone.
With the original unpaid gambling bill and a $7.5-million defamation judgment awarded by a Nevada judge this year, Francis owes Wynn close to $30 million.
The defamation judgment dates back to 2008, when Wynn's company officials sued Francis to collect the gambling debt. He accused them of employing prostitutes and deceptive practices to keep him gambling as his losses mounted. Wynn responded with a defamation suit in Las Vegas.
The CEO of Wynn resorts and designer of signature Las Vegas casinos such as the Mirage, Bellagio, Wynn and Encore said after arguments concluded on Friday that he would donate any winnings, minus his attorney's fees, to charities.
To contact the editor, e-mail:
Most Popular Slideshows
- Jaden Smith Clarifies Emancipation Reports with Dad Will Smith on TV Show ‘Ellen’ [PHOTOS AND VIDEO]
- Demi Lovato Snapped Getting Flirty with The X-Factor Boss, Simon Cowell? [PHOTOS]
- SEE PHOTOS! Eva Longoria Wears No Panties at Cannes 2013, Revealed in Embarrassing Wardrobe Malfunction [SLIDESHOW]
- Robsten Romance: New Thorns on the Rosy Love Between Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart [SLIDESHOW]