LOS ANGELES -- A judge has cut by more than half the $40 million jury verdict that casino mogul Steve Wynn was recently awarded against "Girls Gone Wild" founder Joe Francis.
Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Joanne O’Donnell issued the ruling cutting the award by $21 million. Her ruling eliminates $20 million in punitive damages the jury granted Wynn and $1 million they said he deserved because of comments Francis made on "Good Morning America."
The ruling only affects damages awarded in the case and preserves the jury’s determination that Francis defamed Wynn on three separate occasions. Francis vowed to appeal the remainder of the verdict.
The trial, which ended in Sep tember, centered on Francis’ claims that he was told Wynn had threatened to hit him in the head with a shovel and have him buried in the desert. Wynn denied making the threats and claimed they damaged his reputation and put his casino license at risk.
Wynn’s attorney Mitchell Lang berg said the casino executive was not disappointed by the ruling. "Steve Wynn is very happy with a $19 million compensatory damages award," he said.
O’Donnell’s ruling states that the jury had no evidence to support awarding punitive damages in the case.
Wynn is the CEO of Wynn Re sorts Ltd. and designed Las Vegas casinos such as The Mirage, Bellagio, Wynn and Encore.