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Appeals court sides with Steve Wynn in defamation lawsuit

Updated April 5, 2021 - 7:29 pm

An appellate court has sided with Steve Wynn in his defamation lawsuit against attorney Lisa Bloom and her law firm in a legal battle over a news release about allegations against the former casino mogul.

A three-judge panel with the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals late last month upheld a lower court’s decision to deny Bloom’s motion to dismiss Wynn’s complaint.

Bloom had filed what’s known as an anti-SLAPP motion — designed to stop frivolous claims — arguing that Wynn was a “billionaire trying to silence his critics.”

Her Las Vegas attorney, Marc Randazza, said Monday that he planned to file court papers later this week, asking for a full panel of judges to review the motion.

“It is poorly reasoned and untethered from legal principle,” Randazza said of the March 25 decision from the 9th Circuit.

The unpublished opinion stemmed from Wynn’s defamation lawsuit in response to a news release from The Bloom Firm in which Lisa Bloom said she represented “a new woman alleging sexual harassment and retaliation against Steve Wynn.”

Bloom said her client was a dancer from the show ShowStoppers at Wynn Las Vegas from late 2014 through late 2016, and was ordered to strip down “to be sexually appealing to Mr. Wynn.”

Wynn called accusations that he leered at female performers a false attempt to pressure payments, saying he was legally blind at the time.

“Wynn has demonstrated a genuine dispute of material fact as to whether Bloom Defendants acted with actual malice in publishing the Press Release,” the 9th Circuit panel wrote. “Bloom Defendants chose to publish the Press Release inculpating Wynn after learning that none of the witnesses could confirm that Wynn played any role in giving the instructions and without considering alternative explanations or investigating further.”

The appellate court is based in San Francisco.

A year ago, Senior U.S. District Judge James Mahan also ruled in Wynn’s favor when he refused to throw out the defamation lawsuit.

“A reasonable jury could find the information that witnesses relayed to defendants was inconsistent with the contents of the press release,” Mahan wrote. “If the facts known to defendant were inconsistent with their press release, there is enough evidence to support a jury’s determination that defendants published the press release with actual malice because defendants would have necessarily published it with knowledge or reckless disregard of its falsity.”

Wynn seeks at least $75,000 in damages from Bloom, according to the lawsuit.

In court briefs, Randazza had argued that Wynn was attempting to “silence his critics” through the defamation claim.

Wynn stepped down as CEO and chairman of Wynn Resorts in February 2018, after multiple allegations of sexual misconduct and sexual harassment.

Bloom’s lawyer also wrote that Wynn’s eyesight was “a red herring issue” and defended the news release.

“In bringing this lawsuit, he is perhaps more like Oedipus — lacking vision, but not eyesight,” Randazza wrote in March 2019. “However, at this stage of the proceedings, let us accept the implication that Wynn is as blind as Tiresias. It is still legally irrelevant. The question is whether Ms. Bloom knew, for a fact, that Wynn is so blind that he cannot ‘leer at’ a scantily clad woman, or whether Ms. Bloom entertained serious doubts as to Wynn’s complete blindness. The answer is no.”

Contact David Ferrara at dferrara@reviewjournal.com or 702-380-1039. Follow @randompoker on Twitter.

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