Nevada Supreme Court Dismisses Steve Wynn's Defamation Suit Against AP

The Nevada Supreme Court made a significant ruling on Thursday, dismissing a defamation lawsuit brought by casino mogul Steve Wynn against The Associated Press (AP) regarding a story published in February 2018. The lawsuit stemmed from an AP article that detailed two women’s accounts to police alleging sexual misconduct by Wynn. In its unanimous decision, the court cited the state’s anti-SLAPP law, which aims to deter strategic lawsuits against public participation, as grounds for rejecting Wynn’s defamation claim.

The court emphasized that Nevada’s anti-SLAPP statutes were specifically designed to limit claims like Wynn’s, which involve news organizations reporting on matters of clear public interest in good faith. By invoking the anti-SLAPP law, the court underscored the importance of protecting freedom of the press and ensuring that journalists can report on issues of public concern without fear of retaliatory litigation.

Wynn contended that the AP article failed to fully describe elements of one woman’s account, which he argued would have cast doubt on her allegation of rape against him in the 1970s. However, the court determined that the AP’s reporting was protected under the anti-SLAPP law, as the news organization had acted in good faith to inform the public about a matter of significant public interest.

Nevada Supreme Court Dismisses Steve Wynn's Defamation Suit Against AP

In response to the court’s decision, Lauren Easton, AP’s vice president of corporate communications, expressed satisfaction, stating that the news organization believed the Nevada Supreme Court had made the right decision. This ruling represents a victory for press freedom and the public’s right to access information on matters of importance.

Attorney Todd Bice, representing Wynn, expressed surprise at the court’s decision, criticizing the ruling for extending legal protections to what he termed a “false” news report. Bice indicated that Wynn’s legal team is considering all available options in light of the ruling.

The lawsuit against AP was part of a broader legal battle initiated by Wynn following allegations of sexual misconduct against him. While Wynn has consistently denied the allegations, the controversy prompted his resignation as chairman and chief executive of Wynn Resorts in early 2018.

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This case underscores the complexities surrounding allegations of sexual misconduct and the legal challenges associated with addressing such claims in the public sphere. The court’s decision to dismiss Wynn’s defamation suit against AP represents a significant victory for press freedom and underscores the importance of robust legal protections for journalists reporting on matters of public interest in Nevada.

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