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Las Vegas Strip hotel’s lawyers respond to O.J. Simpson complaint

Workers at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas could not have damaged O.J. Simpson’s reputation by telling a tabloid news group why he was kicked out of property in late 2017, lawyers for the casino argued in court briefs.

Simpson filed a civil lawsuit against The Cosmopolitan in November alleging that the employees defamed him and that TMZ reported the infamous former football star “was drunk and became disruptive” at the CliQue bar.

In response to the complaint, the hotel-casino’s lawyers wrote last week that Simpson’s public reputation had long been established before he walked into the bar.

“In addition to being a Heisman Memorial Trophy winner, famous football player, and erstwhile actor, one major facet of his fame/notoriety is the fact that in 1997, he was held civilly liable for the wrongful death of Ronald Goldman and the battery of his ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson,” lawyers for the hotel wrote. “Another major facet of Plaintiff’s fame/notoriety is the fact that he is a convicted felon as a result of being held criminally liable by a jury in 2008 for a robbery that occurred at the Palace Station Hotel and Casino in 2007.”

Simpson’s lawyer, Malcolm LaVergne, argued that a TMZ article “specifically states that ‘(h)otel staff tells TMZ’ was the basis for the report.” The TMZ article reported that Simpson was “angry at hotel staff and glasses broke at the bar.”

LaVergne wrote in a separate brief on Monday that the casino’s response was “immoral,” citing U.S. Supreme Court decisions regarding race, along with the Civil War and the 1960s civil rights movement.

The original lawsuit characterized Simpson as a “well-known public figure” who “has experienced various legal problems,” and said he had been to The Cosmopolitan multiple times. On Nov. 8, 2017, Simpson was eating at STK Las Vegas and went to the CliQue bar after.

Simpson denied being intoxicated, acting “belligerent” toward anyone, breaking glass or destroying property. As Simpson was leaving the bar, “he and his friends were approached by security at the Cosmopolitan, without incident,” the complaint said.

After leaving the bar, the group went to the hotel’s basement parking lot, where a “person representing to be security” issued Simpson a trespass notice.

The next day, Simpson completed a drug and alcohol test for his parole officer. The Nevada Department of Parole and Probation later found that Simpson had not violated any terms of his probation and “determined that the Cosmopolitan’s assertions against Simpson were false,” according to the complaint.

Simpson was granted parole in July 2017 after serving almost nine years in prison for a 2007 robbery at a Palace Station hotel room. He was convicted of taking memorabilia that he said was stolen from him, and Simpson has claimed he was trying to get personal items and family photos.

The robbery happened 12 years after Simpson was found not guilty of the slayings of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ron Goldman in a criminal case.

Simpson’s suit alleged that The Cosmopolitan fabricated the story of Simpson becoming belligerent to keep him off the property and to “paint Simpson in a false light by defaming and embarrassing him.”

The Cosmopolitan’s lawyers want the case moved to a private arbitrator, rather than a public trial, where damages could exceed $50,000.

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

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