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Bloom Sex Harassment Firm Fails to Nix Steve Wynn’s Libel Suit

March 26, 2021, 4:08 PM

Former Wynn Resorts Ltd. chief executive officer Steve Wynn may be able to show attorney and former TV personality Lisa Bloom and her law firm defamed him in a press release that accused Wynn of ordering that female resort show performers present themselves in a more sexually appealing way, the Ninth Circuit ruled.

Wynn could convince a jury that Bloom and the Bloom Firm “chose to publish the Press Release inculpating Wynn after learning that none of the witnesses could confirm that Wynn played any role in giving the instructions and without considering alternative explanations or investigating further,” the court said Thursday.

Wynn’s lawsuit arose out of published reports in January 2018 accusing him of a decade-long pattern of sexual misconduct. He stepped down as CEO a month later, and Wynn Resorts was fined $20 million by Nevada gaming regulators for failing to investigate or act upon the allegations.

The press release was issued by Bloom and her firm March 22, 2018, Wynn says in the April 2018 lawsuit he filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Nevada.

The release was “a public relations ploy intended to pressure Mr. Wynn into paying money to Defendants and their alleged client for a bogus claim of sexual harassment and retaliation,” according to Wynn’s suit.

The document “suggests” that Wynn directly or indirectly instructed that female ShowStoppers performers “strip down to bras and panties, put on heels, and apply extra makeup so as to be sexually appealing” to him, and retaliated against performer Angelina Mullins when she wouldn’t comply with those instructions, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit said.

But Mullins testified that she “made it clear” to Bloom and the firm that she had no personal knowledge that the alleged sexually degrading instructions came from Wynn and that she only assumed they did, the court said.

And Mullins and another witness gave Bloom and the firm “reason to doubt” Wynn was responsible, the Ninth Circuit said.

Their testimony describes differences between the performance styles of Wynn’s “New York Broadway and Los Angeles Commercial” performers and how those styles and the performers’ professional experiences may have influenced their understandings of proper attire and behavior, the court said.

That may enable Wynn to establish the “actual malice” needed to prove his claims, the unpublished opinion said.

Bloom is the daughter of famed women’s rights attorney Gloria Allred and advised movie mogul Harvey Weinstein when he was accused of workplace and other sexual misconduct.

Judges Richard R. Clifton, Jacqueline H. Nguyen, and Mark J. Bennett joined the opinion.

Peterson Baker PLLC and Pisanelli Bice PLLC represent Wynn. Randazza Legal Group PLLC represents Bloom and her firm.

The case is Wynn v. Bloom, 2021 BL 108224, 9th Cir., No. 20-15388, unpublished 3/25/21.

To contact the reporter on this story: Patrick Dorrian in Washington at pdorrian@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Rob Tricchinelli at rtricchinelli@bloomberglaw.com; Patrick L. Gregory at pgregory@bloomberglaw.com

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