LOS ANGELES (CNS) – A judge says she will allow lawyers for Steve Wynn to amend his defamation suit against Joe Francis to permanently prevent the “Girls Gone Wild” founder from repeating his allegation the Las Vegas hotelier wanted him killed and buried in the desert over a $2 million gambling debt.
Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Joanne O’Donnell issued a ruling Monday stating that the request would not be an infringement on Francis’ right to free speech because a jury last week found that he had defamed the casino mogul with the remark and awarded him a total of $40 million in compensatory and punitive damages.
However, O’Donnell said the proposed order currently is too broad because it also would include anyone acting on Francis’ behalf. She wants it revised to pertain to Francis only.
“There is … no evidence that anyone but Francis has defamed (Wynn) and no evidence that Francis has encouraged others to defame plaintiff,” O’Donnell wrote. “Therefore, the proposed injunction’s language extending the prohibition to all people acting in concert with defendant, on his behalf or at his direction is improper and must be deleted.”
Francis’ attorneys have 10 days to file objections to the proposed injunction after being served with it, otherwise O’Donnell says she will sign it if it has been fixed in the way she deems necessary.
O’Donnell heard arguments concerning the injunction Sept. 11, then took the motion under submission.
Wynn sued Francis in June 2010, alleging the soft-porn producer said the billionaire threatened to have him hit in the back of the head with a shovel and buried in the desert.
Wynn contended that the first defamatory statement by Francis occurred April 12, 2010, in Los Angeles Superior Court during a hearing concerning a $2 million gambling debt Francis ran up at one of Wynn’s Las Vegas casinos. The second statement occurred outside the same courtroom, and both remarks were overheard by an Internet celebrity gossip reporter, according to the lawsuit.
Francis’ lawyers maintain the second statement was a re-publication of what was said in the courtroom and therefore not actionable.
The third and final remark occurred when Francis repeated the statement recently during a national morning show television interview, according to Wynn’s lawyers.
Wynn maintained that such an accusation could have a negative impact on his Las Vegas business, especially in a state where gaming is heavily regulated.
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