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Wynn wins battle

AP

LAS VEGAS (AP) – A day after they awarded casino magnate Steve Wynn $2.1 million in compensatory damages, jurors returned to court Tuesday to hear testimony in the punitive damage phase of Wynn’s defamation suit.

The jury found Tuesday that a book advertisement linking Wynn to organized crime figures was defamatory.

”We’re not surprised,” Wynn attorney Jim Pisanelli said after the verdict was read. ”The jury obviously took time and considered all the evidence. They took the difficult task of putting a dollar figure on it.”

Wynn, chairman of Mirage Resorts Inc., brought the defamation lawsuit against New York publisher Lyle Stuart and Barricade Books. Wynn claimed two statements Stuart made in a catalog promoting Las Vegas Review-Journal columnist John L. Smith’s book ”Running Scared: The Life and Treacherous Times of Las Vegas Casino King Steve Wynn” damaged his reputation.

Smith was not a party to the lawsuit, but a similar suit by Wynn is pending against the author and Stuart in Kentucky.

One of the catalog’s statements reads: ”Running Scared details why a confidential Scotland Yard report calls Wynn a front man for the Genovese crime family.”

Scotland Yard, a British law enforcement agency, conducted a background check on Wynn in the early 1980s when he was considering applying for a British gambling license.

The second statement at issue says ”another contact represents Chicago mob lieutenant John Roselli. Thus would Steve Wynn’s 3-percent investment in the Las Vegas Frontier blow up when investigators discovered the true owners of the hotel were members of the Detroit mob?”

The jury found the first statement defamatory, but said Wynn failed to prove the second statement was false.

In addition to the $2.1 million in compensatory damages, the jury also said punitive damages were appropriate. Jurors returned to court today at 9 a.m. for that phase of the trial.

Wynn, who testified last week, was not in court for the verdict Tuesday evening.

One of his attorneys, Barry Langberg, said Wynn couldn’t get to the courthouse in time. Langberg notified Wynn by phone and said Wynn was ”happy that the message was sent.”

Stuart, who maintains that the comments merely reflect some of the book’s content and are not accusatory, said he was disappointed with the verdict.

He said Wynn ”can snap his fingers and have the governor and mayor testify (for him).”

Gov. Bob Miller and Las Vegas Mayor Jan Jones both testified on behalf of Wynn during the trial.

AP-WS-08-12-97 2225EDT


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