Nevada Supreme Court dismisses casino tycoon Steve Wynn’s defamation lawsuit against The Associated Press — CDC Gaming Reports

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LAS VEGAS (AP) — The Nevada Supreme Court on Thursday dismissed a defamation lawsuit filed by casino magnate Steve Wynn against The Associated Press over a story about two women’s accounts to police alleging he engaged in sexual misconduct.

The court cited the state’s anti-SLAPP law in rejecting Wynn’s claim that he was defamed in a February 2018 AP article, which cited police documents. SLAPP, or Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation, refers to court filings made to intimidate or silence critics.

“Nevada’s anti-SLAPP statutes are designed to narrowly limit the type of claim at issue here, which involves a news organization publishing an article in a good faith effort to inform its readers regarding an issue of clear public interest,” the three-judge panel said unanimously.

Wynn argued that the documents failed to fully describe elements of the woman’s account that would cast doubt on her claims that he raped her in the 1970s in Chicago and that she gave birth to their daughter in a gas station restroom.

Lauren Easton, AP’s vice president of corporate communications, said in a statement that the news organization is pleased with the ruling.

“We believe the Nevada Supreme Court made the right decision,” Easton said.

Attorney Todd Pace, who represents Wynn, said he was “surprised that a court would change Nevada law and ignore the Nevada Legislature in order to expand legal protections for a news report determined to be false.”

Wayne’s legal team is now “considering all options,” he said.

Wynn, the 82-year-old developer of a decades-old casino empire, filed a lawsuit in April 2018 against the AP, one of its reporters and Halina Kota, the woman who made the claim. Two months earlier he had resigned as chairman and CEO of Wynn Resorts.

Wayne has consistently denied the sexual misconduct allegations, which were first reported in January 2018 by The Wall Street Journal.

The case has been taken to the state Supreme Court twice, after Clark County District Court Judge Ronald Israel first dismissed the AP from the case in August 2018 on the grounds that it “fairly conveyed information” based on an official document, a police complaint from Cota, until Although the authorities never investigated this claim.

Las Vegas police said a significant amount of time has passed since Cota said the events occurred in 1973 or 1974.

None of the accused were identified in the AP report. Their names and other identifying information were redacted in documents obtained by the AP under a public records request. Las Vegas police declined to provide additional details.

The AP does not typically publish the names of people who say they are victims of sexual assault, but Cota agreed to be named in subsequent news reports.

A lower court judge later ruled that Cota had defamed Wynn with her claims, which the judge called “completely fictional,” and awarded Wynn a nominal $1 in damages.

Wynn appealed the Israeli ruling to the state Supreme Court, where Pais argued in July 2020 that the AP had omitted relevant elements from Cota’s complaint that would have led people to doubt the veracity of her claims.

The Supreme Court reinstated the suit in November 2020, saying Israel erred in dismissing the AP from the case on grounds of fair report privilege and ordering it to consider other arguments made by the AP to dismiss the case under Nevada’s anti-SLAPP law.

Israel then granted the AP’s request to dismiss, and Wen appealed again. The Supreme Court accepted written briefs but did not hear oral arguments again before issuing a ruling Thursday.

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