A San Francisco appellate court has ruled in favor of former casino tycoon Steve Wynn in his prolonged legal battle against attorney Lisa Bloom and her law firm stemming from a news release alleging the businessman “leered at” a former Wynn Resorts employee.
Late last month, a three-judge panel with the 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals upheld an earlier decision issued by a lower court that denied Ms. Bloom’s motion to dismiss Mr. Wynn’s complaint for defamation.
The billionaire businessman filed his complaint in the spring of 2018 in response to a new release from Ms. Bloom’s law firm, The Bloom Firm, in which she said she represented a former Wynn Resorts employee who alleged she had been subjected to sexual harassment and retaliation by Mr. Wynn.
The identity of Ms. Bloom’s client has remained undisclosed, but the attorney said in the contested news release that she was a dancer from ShowStoppers at Wynn Las Vegas between late 2014 and late 2016. The woman accused Mr. Wynn of leering at her and other dancers in the show and of instructing them to strip down to their underwear.
In his defamation claim, the businessman said that he could not have leered at dancers on the stage since he was legally blind due to a deteriorating eye condition he was first diagnosed with in his 20s. He further noted that when he attended any rehearsals with ShowStoppers dancers, he was most often accompanied by his wife and never interacted with the women participating in the show.
Bloom Contests the Ruling
Ms. Bloom’s Las Vegas attorney, Marc Randazza, said that he would file court papers to ask for a full judges panel to review the matter. He further noted last month’s decision was “poorly reasoned and untethered from legal principle.”
The three-judge panel ruled in March that Mr. Wynn has “demonstrated a genuine dispute of material fact as to whether Bloom Defendants acted with actual malice in publishing the Press Release.” The decision went on that Ms. Bloom chose to publish the press release even though she was informed that “none of the witnesses could confirm that Wynn played any role in giving the instructions and without considering alternative explanations or investigating further.”
Senior US District Judge James Mahan last year ruled in favor of the embattled businessman and refused to dismiss the defamation suit. The judge said in his ruling that “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.”
Ms. Bloom’s attorney argued that with his complaint, Mr. Wynn had attempted to silence his critics and that the businessman’s eyesight was a “red herring issue.”
The businessman stepped down from his roles as CEO and Chairman of casino operator Wynn Resorts in early 2018 after a bombshell Wall Street Journal investigation that detailed a decades-long pattern of sexual harassment by Mr. Wynn. He has denied all allegations repeatedly.
The disgraced businessman is understood to be seeking $75,000 in damages from Ms. Bloom.
Source: Appeals court sides with Steve Wynn in defamation lawsuit, Las Vegas Review-Journal, April 5, 2021