A landmark decision
The Nevada Supreme Court has thrown out Steve Wynn’s defamation lawsuit against the Associated Press. The three-judge panel unanimously ruled on Thursday that the former casino mogul had no legal standing. He originally sued the media company in April 2018 over its story two months previous that claimed that Wynn raped a woman in the 1970s.
law that aims to protect journalists
The court referred to Nevada’s anti-strategic lawsuits against public participation (SLAPP) law that aims to protect journalists. The panel said that these statutes were implemented to deal with this specific type of issue that “involves a news organization publishing an article in a good faith effort to inform their readers regarding an issue of clear public interest.”
The court ruled that Wynn was unable to prove that AP displayed “actual malice” with its article. It was also up to him to show that the AP journalist acted with a high level of awareness of the probable falsity of the published information.
Might not be over
Steve Wynn’s Attorney Todd Bice disagreed with the ruling, expressing his surprise that the court “would change Nevada law and disregard the Nevada Legislature” in an attempt to legally protect a false news report. He said that the legal team will consider all options following the decision.
argued that the AP left out certain relevant elements from the police report
Wynn’s lawyer had argued that the AP left out certain relevant elements from the police report that would lead to doubts about the legitimacy of the rape claims.
AP Vice President of Corporate Communications Lauren Easton welcomed Thursday’s decision and said that it shows how powerful public figures can’t use legal action to intimidate and silence the press.
A long-running saga
Steve Wynn stepped down as the CEO of Wynn Resorts in January 2018 after allegations of sexual misconduct came to light following the publication of a Wall Street Journal article. Attempts by the company’s executives to hide and not address these claims led to it having to pay $20m and $35m fines in Nevada and Massachusetts, respectively. Steve Wynn has always denied all allegations of sexual misconduct.
The defamation case went through many twists and turns over the past several years. A Clark County District Court Judge originally dismissed AP from the complaint as it “fairly reported” information from an official police complaint. Subsequent appeals from Wynn were ultimately unsuccessful.
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