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Jury adds $20M more to Wynn slander case damages

The Associated Press, Tuesday, September 11, 2012, 4:39pm (PDT)

LOS ANGELES (AP) — A jury doubled its verdict against "Girls Gone Wild" founder Joe Francis on Tuesday, ordering him to pay an additional $20 million in punitive damages to Steve Wynn for claiming the casino mogul threatened to kill him.

The decision came one day after the same nine men and three women awarded Wynn $20 million after determining that Francis' allegations slandered the designer of upscale casinos. Francis plans to appeal the verdicts.

The panel followed the suggestion of Wynn's attorney, Barry Langberg, who asked jurors to double their initial verdict, which was intended to compensate Wynn for damage to his reputation and casino empire.

"It tells Mr. Francis and the world, you cannot do this," Langberg told the panel before it began deliberations on punitive damages.

Francis' attorney Aaron Aftergood argued that Wynn's side hadn't shown any evidence about his client's finances and they shouldn't deliver another large judgment. Francis did not provide financial records to Wynn's attorney, so estimates of his wealth were not presented to jurors.

Francis claimed record producer Quincy Jones told him that Wynn threatened to hit him in the back of the head with a shovel and have him buried in the desert amid a dispute over a gambling debt, but the Grammy winner testified no such statements were made.

Wynn is the CEO of Wynn Resorts Ltd. and designed Las Vegas casinos such as The Mirage, Bellagio, Wynn and Encore.

Aftergood said he intends to file a motion for a new trial on the grounds that jurors were allowed to consider statements Francis made to a "Good Morning America" crew, but the panel was never shown the interview and heard little testimony about it. A judge allowed Wynn's attorneys to add the interview to the case after testimony had concluded and before jury deliberations began.

Jurors awarded Wynn $22 million for the interview comments.

Wynn has said he intends to donate the damages he received from the trial to charities.

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Anthony McCartney can be reached at http://twitter.com/mccartneyAP .

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