Gambling

‘New Kid in Town’ Fontainebleau Countersues Wynn Las Vegas

Posted on: March 20, 2024, 11:49h. 

Last updated on: March 20, 2024, 12:14h.

Fontainebleau Las Vegas, which on February 29 was sued by Wynn Las Vegas for poaching members of its staff in violation of their noncompete clauses, has fired back with a countersuit.

The Fontainebleau, foreground, overshadows the Wynn and Encore in a photo taken from the top of the Strat. (Image: travel-intel.com)

The counterclaim from Fontainebleau Las Vegas LLC, filed on Tuesday in Clark County District Court and first reported by Casino.org’s own Vital Vegas blogger Scott Roeben, argues that the eight executives who left Wynn for the newest Las Vegas Strip resort did so of their own accord because they weren’t happy working for Wynn.

Talk on the Street

The counterclaim takes the novel approach of beginning with a quote from the lyrics of a popular rock song …

“In their 1976 hit ‘New Kid in Town,’ the iconic band The Eagles wrote about the insecurities that follow fading popularity and attraction,” it begins. ‘There’s a new kid in town. Everybody’s talking. There’s a new kid in town. People started walking. There’s a new kid in town …’

But rather than fairly compete, as the law requires, Wynn Las Vegas has confessed its inability to legitimately retain customers and talent,” the lawsuit continues, “thus resorting to threats, intimidation, vexatious litigation, and other unlawful acts.”

The counterclaim also includes the profanity-laced transcription of a text exchange between Wynn CEO Craig Billings and Fontainebleau CEO Jeffrey Soffer that the Fontainebleau claims “demonstrated a disturbing lack of dignity and judgment normally exhibited by CEOs of publicly traded companies.”

The subject of the text message was Brett Mufson, President of Fontainebleau Development.

“Like you,” Billings texted Soffer. “But your guy is a fucking rank amateur. He hasn’t operated a lemonade stand, much less a complex operation like you’re about to open. He’s running around ham fistedly trying to poach people under contract, which is a sure fire way to turn the town against you. Rein him in to stop the damage he’s doing to your business.”

Wynn officials responded to the counterclaim with the following statement: “Fontainebleau’s counterclaim, filled with fictitious accusations, was clearly designed to incite social media chatter and is devoid of answers to our original claim.

“The facts of our original claim against Fontainebleau are clear: Fontainebleau induced Wynn employees to breach their lawful employment contracts. We believe Fontainebleau engaged in that practice because we believe they lack the ability to develop, and based upon numerous recent news reports, to retain talent.

“They cannot solve these widely reported problems by encouraging employees to break the lawful employment contracts they have negotiated with other employers. We strongly objected to that behavior because it is clearly unethical, and we shall soon find out if a court believes it is also unlawful.”

The Naughty List

Among the allegedly poached employees named by Wynn’s original lawsuit is David Snyder, the resort’s former VP of culinary operations and restaurant development. After breaching his noncompete contract to come aboard, Wynn’s suit alleges, Snyder then attempted to solicit his former co-workers, including Wynn Las Vegas executive chef Chef Sandy Shi.

Wynn’s suit also names sous chef Brian Kenny, another Wynn staffer who jumped ship to Fontainebleau, and who then allegedly tried wooing chef Corey Francis into joining him. Accused of the same thing is former Wynn executive pastry chef Patrice Caillot, who tried hiring Wynn pastry chef Vivian Lam almost as soon as he crossed the street.

Also named is Michael Waltman, Fontainebleau’s senior VP of nightlife, for allegedly trying to hire Wayne Crane, Wynn’s executive director of talent and nightlife, and Mufson, who, along with David Grutman of Groot Hospitality, is accused of attempting to poach Ryan Jones, Wynn’s VP of nightlife.

Wynn’s also suit accuses Fontainebleau General Counsel Mike Pappas of being “duplicitously involved” in what it characterizes as Fontainebleau’s “interference.”


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