Former casino king Steve Wynn can resume his lawsuit against high-profile attorney Lisa Bloom for defamation, after the 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a lower court’s decision not to dismiss the case.
The Las Vegas Review-Journal has learned that the appellate panel ruled last month in favor of Wynn in an unpublished opinion.
Bloom has hit headlines for representing women who have made sexual misconduct allegations against former President Donald Trump and former Fox news anchor Bill O’Reilly. But she was criticized by women’s groups for formally advising Harvey Weinstein after accusations began to surface about the now-convicted sex offender.
See No Evil
Wynn sued Bloom and her law firm, the Bloom Firm, in April 2018. The suit was over a press release in which Bloom accused Wynn of “leering” at an unnamed female client.
The release was issued by the Bloom Firm the day after Wynn sold his entire stake in Wynn Resorts. The company was seeking to distance itself from its disgraced founder to protect its gaming licenses. In January 2018, a Wall Street Journal article claimed the billionaire casino tycoon engaged in a “decades-long pattern of sexual misconduct” against female employees, allegations Wynn denies.
Bloom said her client had been a dancer in the ShowStoppers at Wynn Vegas’ Encore Theater from late 2014 through late 2016. According to the release, whenever Wynn came to inspect a rehearsal, she and her colleagues were told to strip to their underwear and put on heels and makeup, “so as to be sexually appealing to Mr. Wynn.”
Wynn countered that he could not have “leered” at the dancers because he is registered blind. He suffers from the genetic disorder retinitis pigmentosa, which causes cells in the retina to break down over time.
It does not cause complete blindness, and whether someone with latter stage RP is capable of leering is a moot point.
Acting with Malice
Bloom’s lawyer, Marc Randazza, has argued that the question of Wynn’s actual eyesight is irrelevant. It’s about whether Bloom knew for a fact that Wynn was too blind to be able to leer at scantily clad women, which she didn’t.
“In bringing this lawsuit, [Wynn] is perhaps more like Oedipus — lacking vision, but not eyesight,” Randazza has said. The mythical Greek king of Thebes was famously “blind to the truth.”
Bloom tried to have the case dismissed by filing an anti-SLAPP motion, which is designed to stop frivolous claims, or “strategic lawsuits against public participation.” Bloom claimed Wynn’s case was about a “billionaire trying to silence his critics.”
But the 9th Circuit panel disagreed.
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,” it added.
Randazza told LVRJ Monday that he planned to demand that a full panel of judges review the motion, describing the ruling as “poorly reasoned and untethered from legal principle.”
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