Steve Wynn Defamation Suit Against Associated Press Could Get Lifeline in Nevada Court
Posted on: July 6, 2020, 09:18h.
Last updated on: July 7, 2020, 09:27h.
Steve Wynn’s defamation claim against the Associated Press and one of the wire service’s reporters — which was dismissed by Clark County District Court Judge Ronald Israel nearly two years ago — could be resuscitated in the Supreme Court of Nevada.
On Monday, seven justices heard arguments by videoconference from Wynn’s counsel, Todd Bice; and Chad Bowman, representing the AP. Bice claims that a February 2018 article written by reporter Regina Garcia Cano didn’t paint the entire picture of one woman’s “fantastical” claims against Wynn. The article was written at the height of a sexual misconduct scandal that eventually led to the gaming mogul’s ouster from the company he founded
The earlier appeal from the district court as urged by the Associated Press sets a wildly dangerous standard if it is allowed to stand as the law in the state of Nevada,” said Bice.
In 2018, Israel dismissed the suit against the news service but ruled accuser Halina Kuta defamed Wynn with “totally fanciful” claims, levying a $1 judgment against her –- the amount in damages sought by the former gaming scion.
Wild Accusations, Enhanced Defamation
Kuta’s accusations against Wynn ran the gamut of absurdity, spanning from her claim to being the inspiration for Pablo Picasso’s “Le Reve” — a painting that Wynn owns — even though she was born 10 years after the work of art was completed, to asserting that she, not Wynn’s ex-wife Elaine, is the biological mother of the former gaming executive’s daughter, Kevyn.
Wynn’s original suit against the AP claimed the news organization reported Kuta’s allegations as credible. One of Kuta’s contentions was that Wynn sexually assaulted her in Chicago in the early 1970s and that she birthed their progeny in a gas station restroom.
Bice, the plaintiff’s attorney, said that because Kuta never gave birth to Wynn’s offspring, there’s not a real child, casting doubt upon the corroboration and the rape allegation as a whole. The lawyer also took issue with the AP’s policy that any statement taken by the police, even if it’s just a courtesy statement unless it’s discarded in the trash, is an official government document.
“The question for the court is very simple,” said Bice. “Was the defamation enhanced … by what the AP omitted in its reporting? The answer to that is absolutely yes.”
Truth Be Told
Bowman, counsel for the AP, said the article in question was reported fairly and that “it simply didn’t use the verbatim words from the police report.”
He went on to say a filing of a complaint starts the proceeding and “the reality is people understand the difference between the complaint and proof.”
Wynn, 78, departed his roles as chairman and chief executive officer of the company bearing his name in February 2018 and has been contending with an array of civil litigation related to alleged sexual misdeeds since then.
The Nevada Supreme Court did not issue a ruling on the fate of Wynn’s action against the AP.
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