Posted on: February 9, 2024, 07:10h.
Last updated on: February 9, 2024, 07:10h.
The Nevada Supreme Court has tossed Steve Wynn’s defamation suit against the Associated Press (AP), the AP reports. The case stemmed from a February 2018 AP news story alleging sexual misconduct that turned out to be false.
The article reported a woman’s claim that Wynn had raped her in the 1970s in Chicago and that she gave birth to their daughter in a gas station restroom. At the time, Wynn was facing several allegations of sexual misconduct towards female Wynn Resorts workers, which he denies.
The AP article was based on an interview the woman, Halina Kuta, gave to police. But Wynn argued the report defamed him because some of the claims in Kuta’s account were so outrageous that the AP should have known they were not credible. He also accused the news agency of omitting details that would have cast doubt on the veracity of her account.
In an affidavit given to Wynn’s lawyers later that year, Kuta appeared to be delusional. She claimed that she had been the model for Picasso’s Le Reve, an artwork Wynn owned at the time, which was painted in 1932, ten years before she was born. She claimed Wynn had stolen the painting and other famous artworks from her.
She also claimed to have been married to Wynn in the 1960s and that she bore him other children, but she couldn’t remember their names.
Kuta’s past social media activity suggests she also believed herself to be the mother of Paris Jackson, daughter of late pop singer Michael Jackson.
In March 2020, a lower court judge ruled that Kuta defamed Wynn, awarding the billionaire a nominal $1 in damages.
But in a separate trial, the judge determined the AP had practiced “fair reporting” that had been in the public interest at the time. Las Vegas District Judge Ron Israel noted that the AP had received a heavily redacted copy of Kuta’s police interview that omitted some of her more fanciful claims.
On Thursday, a panel of Nevada Supreme Court judges cited Nevada’s anti-SLAPP laws in dismissing the case.
A SLAPP, or Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation, is a case in which the plaintiff litigates in a bid to silence, intimidate, or censor their critics.
“Nevada’s anti-SLAPP statutes were designed to limit precisely the type of claim at issue here, which involves a news organization publishing an article in a good faith effort to inform their readers regarding an issue of clear public interest,” the judges wrote.
Wynn’s lawyer, Todd Bice, said they were “considering all options.”