Wednesday September 12, 2012
U.S. casino mogul awarded $20 mln in punitive damages in slander suit
LOS ANGELES - Casino owner Steve Wynn won $20 million in punitive damages for defamation on Tuesday, doubling his total judgment in a lawsuit accusing "Girls Gone Wild" creator Joe Francis of slandering him by falsely claiming that Wynn had threatened his life over a gambling debt.
A Los Angeles County Superior Court jury deliberated for about two hours before returning its verdict in the second phase of a defamation trial that capped a years-long legal feud between the two men.
The $40 million total sum awarded Wynn this week comes on top of a $7.5 million judgment the 70-year-old Las Vegas mogul won against Francis earlier this year in a separate defamation case. His company was awarded more than $2 million in a previous lawsuit brought to collect money Wynn had claimed that Francis, 39, owed his casino.
The lawsuit decided on Monday accused Francis, founder of a video series featuring college-age women exposing themselves for the camera, often during alcohol-soaked parties, of publicly stating on several occasions that Wynn wanted him killed with a shovel and buried in the desert.
Wynn said the slanderous statement was first uttered in April 2010 during a court hearing stemming from the disputed gambling debt, and was repeated during a nationally televised broadcast of ABC's "Good Morning America".
Wynn has maintained the accusation by Francis was fabricated and posed a threat of undermining his business empire in a state like Nevada, where the gambling industry is tightly regulated. - Reuters