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Steve Wynn judgment against Joe Francis grows to $40 million

Steve Wynn Joe Francis

A Los Angeles jury on Tuesday awarded casino mogul Steve Wynn $20 million in punitive damages in his slander suit against "Girls Gone Wild" founder Joe Francis.

That brings the total damages awarded to Wynn in the case to $40 million.

In a statement, Wynn said: "Thank God for the justice system that finally sent a message:  If you think you’re taking a cheap shot, it may be a lot more expensive than you had imagined.  Therefore, think before you post; think before you speak; hesitate before you start to destroy someone’s character.  There may be a day of reckoning."

The jury found Francis knowingly made false statements when he told reporters and others that Wynn had threatened to kill him and bury his body in the desert amid a spat over a gambling debt. Because the jury found that Francis acted with malice, Wynn was able to seek additional punitive damages.

The initial award surpassed the $12 million Wynn's attorneys had asked for and swelled Francis' already substantial debt to the Las Vegas billionaire. With the original $2 million gambling bill and a $7.5-million defamation judgment awarded by a Nevada judge this year, Francis owes Wynn close to $50 million.

"The message has been sent," Francis attorney Aaron Aftergood told jurors Tuesday.

The Wynn-Francis feud stretches over several years and multiple lawsuits. For those counting, Wynn is 3-0 in civil judgments.

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-- Ashley Powers

Photo: Joe Francis (left) and Steve Wynn  Credit: Associated Press
 
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