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Fontainebleau opposes injunction sought by Wynn in poaching case

Updated April 23, 2024 - 8:36 am

Attorneys for Fontainebleau Las Vegas fired a new volley in the ongoing legal battle involving Wynn Las Vegas’ accusations that the new resort is poaching its executives and encouraging workers to violate their employment contracts.

In an opposition to Wynn’s motion for a preliminary injunction to stop Fontainebleau filed late Friday in Clark County District Court, Fontainebleau said the court doesn’t have the authority to step into the dispute with a blanket injunction.

A hearing is scheduled May 9 before Clark County District Judge Mark Denton.

In its opposition, Fontainebleau made it clear that the two Strip resorts are far from settling the dispute that formally began with a Wynn lawsuit filed Feb. 29, but discussed by representatives of the two resorts for months earlier.

“This court would be hard-pressed to find a more untenable motion for preliminary injunction than that filed by plaintiff Wynn Las Vegas, LLC,” the court opposition from Fontainebleau said. “WLV requests a sweeping prophylactic injunction which presupposes that each and every restrictive employment covenant it has ever entered into is valid and protected under Nevada law. WLV makes that wild assertion notwithstanding that none of the actual terms of these contracts are before this court, nor are any of the personnel — present or past — who are supposedly bound in WLV’s undefined servitude.”

In an emailed statement to the Las Vegas Review-Journal, Wynn said: “Wynn Resorts is simply seeking to prevent Fontainebleau from continuing to interfere in the employment contracts that some of our executive employees negotiate with us. We look forward to the adjudication of this matter by the court.”

February lawsuit

The Feb. 29 lawsuit was filed after what Wynn considered “the last straw” — that Fontainebleau attempted to hire away Wayne Crane, senior executive director of entertainment for Wynn Nightlife.

Crane signed on with Fontainebleau on Feb. 13, agreeing to start there in early March. When he notified his Wynn superiors, he told them he had received an offer from Fontainebleau, but not that he had accepted the job.

That led to several Wynn executives meeting with him to convince him to stay and that resulted in Wynn offering Crane a new three-year contract at a significantly higher pay rate. Crane took the Wynn deal and signed the new contract.

In Fontainebleau’s Friday motion, the company had a different version of the story — that Michael Waltman, Fontainebleau’s senior vice president of nightlife, reached out to Crane because of their long association in the industry. In a declaration that was a part of Fontainebleau’s opposition, Waltman said Crane inquired about a position for his wife, Merina, who worked at Encore Beach Club and formerly worked for Fontainebleau’s Miami property.

Once Merina Crane was hired by Fontainebleau, her husband looked to join her there, the motion said. Wayne Crane had cleaned out his office at Wynn when the meeting with Wynn executives occurred. He said he changed his mind and went back to Wynn at a higher salary, but also feared Wynn would sue him for breaking his employment contract if he moved to Fontainebleau.

“Merina was very vocal about her discontent with WLV,” Waltman’s declaration says. “On more than one occasion, Merina expressed her dissatisfaction with WLV’s management and operation. Merina was not happy with her employment at Encore Beach Club and wanted to leave. Merina indicated her and her husband both felt the same way and he, too, wanted to leave.”

Merina Crane began working at Fontainebleau Nov. 28, weeks before the property opened its doors, the motion stated. She continued to ask how her husband could join her at Fontainebleau. On Feb. 6, Crane and other Wynn executives visited Fontainebleau and three days later, Crane cleared out his office at Wynn for the move before meeting with Wynn higher-ups determined to keep him there.

Contact Richard N. Velotta at rvelotta@reviewjournal.com or 702-477-3893. Follow @RickVelotta on X.

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