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Posted on: September 7, 2023, 11:07h.
Last updated on: September 7, 2023, 11:07h.
Steve Wynn had his right to a jury trial violated in a long-running defamation lawsuit against a former Wynn Resorts hairstylist, his lawyers argued Thursday.
The Nevada Court of Appeals heard that a jury should be allowed to decide which party was telling the truth in the case, reports The Las Vegas Review-Journal.
Jorgen Nielsen, originally from Denmark, was the artistic director of the salon at the Wynn Las Vegas and later the Encore up until 2013.
He was one of two people who went on the record in a now-infamous Wall Street Journal article of January 2018 that accused Wynn of chronic sexual misconduct against female employees.
The story led to Wynn’s withdrawal from the casino business, although he has denied all the allegations.
In the article, Nielsen is quoted as saying that “everyone was petrified” of Wynn and “no one was there to help” when they aired their concerns.
In April 2018, Wynn sued Nielsen for defamation, arguing that Nielsen was a “disgruntled former employee” who “harbors a personal animus, dislike, and anger toward Mr. Wynn.”
“In falsely accusing Mr. Wynn of sexual misconduct in the #MeToo era, Defendant Nielsen acted with the unlawful purpose of smearing Mr. Wynn and creating workplace issues for Mr. Wynn,” it claimed.
The lawsuit argued that Neilsen’s allegation that Wynn chased a manager around the salon until she locked herself in the bathroom couldn’t be true, because Wynn is legally blind.
Nielsen filed an anti-SLAPP motion to have the case dismissed, which ultimately succeeded in the Nevada Supreme Court.
A SLAPP, or Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation, is a case which the plaintiff does not necessarily expect to win, but files in a bid to silence, intimidate or censor critics.
SLAPP in the Face
But in oral arguments Thursday, Wynn’s attorney Todd Bice criticized the ruling and said the anti-SLAPP law had been improperly applied.
“Examples can be cited of making accusations against Mr. Wynn,” Bice said, as reported by LVRJ. “Mr. Wynn can cite examples where he has been wrongly accused and prevailed. So, no, that’s why we have trials. That’s why the jury gets to hear all of the evidence and decide who’s telling the truth here.”
Joel Henrion, representing Neilsen, warned that anti-SLAPP protection should not be “watered down” for the benefit of “billionaire bullies.”
In July, Wynn agreed to pay Nevada gaming regulators $10 million to settle a complaint that the sexual misconduct allegations had “harmed Nevada’s reputation and its gaming industry.” As part of the settlement, Wynn agreed to never again hold a position with a Nevada gaming company.