Professional Defamation Case Study: Mogul v. Mogul

professional defamation case study
A judge tossed a professional defamation lawsuit between two moguls.

In This Article:

  • Explanation of a professional defamation lawsuit between two high-profile moguls;
  • Explanation of what one must prove to win a slander or libel lawsuit; and

Casino mogul Steve Wynn lost round one of his professional defamation lawsuit against financier James “Jim” Chanos. Wynn has till January 15, 2015 to appeal – and according to all reports, he plans to do just that.

The Wynn v. Chanos slander lawsuit is a good one to review because it touches on an important crux of American defamation case law – the all-mighty First Amendment.

Why Did Wynn Sue Chanos For Professional Defamation?

Chanos At A Lecture: “The SEC investigated Wynn.”

A lecture circuit veteran, earlier in the year, Chanos spoke at the University of California at Berkley. During the event, he mentioned an abandoned federal investigation into Wynn’s business for possible violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. Ultimately, the investigation went nowhere; officials didn’t find “reliable evidence of FCPA violations.”

At the Berkley lecture, Chanos noted the SEC’s investigation and that it didn’t illuminate any evidence against Wynn Resorts Ltd and related parties.

Wynn Filed Lawsuit

Wynn wasn’t pleased with Chanos’ lecture. So, in September 2014, the casino king filed a professional defamation lawsuit against the money man.

Judge Sides With Chanos Because Wynn Made Too Big Of A Leap

District Judge William Orrick explained his ruling in favor of Chanos:

“It takes a significant inferential leap to conclude that Chanos’s general uncertainty about the questionable business methods in Macau equates to an assertion that Wynn violated the FCPA.”

No False Statement of Fact

To win a U.S. defamation case, the claim must be centered on a false statement of fact, not an opinion or speculation. After all, if it were against the law to speculate about businesses, politics, or people, the news and entertainment industries wouldn’t exist.

What must plaintiffs prove to win defamation of character lawsuits in the United States?

Generally speaking, to win a defamation of character lawsuit – whether personal or professional – the plaintiff must prove, at the very least, that the defendant:

  • Published, broadcast or otherwise distributed a false statement of fact about the plaintiff;
  • Caused material harm to the plaintiff;
  • Acted with reckless disregard for the truth or actual malice.

Don’t be discouraged by our country’s defendant-friendly defamation laws. Every year, many businesses and professionals win slander and libel lawsuits. Yes, free speech trumps a lot, but it doesn’t give anybody the right to spread lies about a person, place, organization, or business.

If you’re the target of a highly inflammatory review, a ruined online reputation, or if you’re simply interested in getting content removed from the Internet, get in touch with Kelly / Warner Law.

Speak With An Attorney About Your Professional Defamation Situation

Since Kelly / Warner’s inception, our lawyers have focused on Internet libel issues. We know the niche well and have guided –step-by-step – hundreds of individuals and businesses to successful resolutions of their professional defamation hiccups.

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