Running Scared: the street fight
  Wynn Pursues Five Lawsuits
  In Attempt to Suppress Book

  By Steve Miller
  copyright (c) 1996, Electric Nevada

Steve Wynn -- national leader of the casino industry and commonly believed to be the most powerful man in the state of Nevada -- has a unique problem.
The bigger he gets, the more people want to know his life story. But the only in-depth biography that's available turns out to be a book Wynn is spending hundreds of thousands of dollars to suppress.
To make matters worse, the publisher of the biography, Barricade Books, in New York, is headed by the combative Lyle Stuart, an ex-libel lawyer himself and publisher for many years of controversial and provocative books, including the infamous The Anarchist's Cookbook - a book of bomb recipes, among other items.
When Barricade first announced the forthcoming book -- Running Scared: The Life and Treacherous Times of Las Vegas Casino King Steve Wynn -- in its May catalog, the paper where author John L. Smith worked, the Las Vegas Review-Journal, immediately began receiving angry phone calls. Wynn, a major advertiser and major power in the state, wanted author John L. Smith fired from his job as columnist. "What was the paper 'going to do' about Smith?" was the refrain.
But the only deference Wynn got from Smith's editors was an instruction to the columnist not to mention the book's name or its publisher's name in his four-times-a-week column.
Two days later, Wynn sued Smith for libel. According to Lyle Stuart, the suit would be the first of four launched by Wynn. A fifth suit was brought against Wynn by Stuart.
"He sued four times," Stuart told Electric Nevada. "First he sued John Smith, on the catalog copy. And I wrote to the lawyer and said, 'Hey, pal, you sued the wrong guy. He didn't even see it until it was in print.' Which was true. 'I wrote it; sue me.'"
"So then an attorney of mine, who's been running the whole thing, negotiated with him something I've



never done in 40 years in publishing, but I thought, 'Okay, there's a point to this.'
"We agreed to show them the manuscript," said Stuart, "so they could make what they said were factual correction of errors. And then it was up to us -- that was the agreement -- up to us to decide whether we'd make them. Okay? I thought this would be good, in terms of getting it as accurate as possible."
In return, Wynn withdrew his libel action against John L. Smith.
But -- wrote Stuart later in a foreword for Smith's book -- "Wynn obviously misunderstood my wanting the book to be as accurate as possible.
"A few days before our scheduled meeting, when asked about the book, Wynn boasted to an interviewer: "There won't be any book. I've cowed the publisher."
Wynn's two attorneys began the meeting by presenting a four-inch stack of documents and saying: "We don't expect you to publish this book."
But Stuart replied, "Listen carefully. You've got it all wrong. No matter what, we're publishing this book."
Two days later, on learning Stuart was going ahead with the book, Wynn sued for the second time.
"Once again, the suit was about the catalog copy," says the publisher. "This time he included my wife and me."
Part of the understanding that had ended the first suit, says Stuart, was that Wynn himself would attend the meeting. When he did not, Stuart says he considered that a breach of faith.


  

"Until that morning, I'd been a Mirage high-roller," wrote Stuart, author of several books on casino gambling.
"I had a casino credit line of $100,000. The failure of Wynn to appear for our meeting changed this. I never play where a casino owner breaks his word.
"I immediately canceled my credit line. In the future, I'll stay and play at other Las Vegas casinos. No Wynn casino will ever again win a penny of my gaming money."
When this account of Wynn's alleged breach of faith appeared as part of Stuart's foreword for Smith's book, Wynn sued a third time.
"When they saw my foreword," Stuart told EN, "they brought a suit -- a very funny suit.
"They didn't want to be looked at as book-burners, so they didn't say they wanted to suppress the book in Nevada, but they wanted those two pages torn out of every copy!"
For the record, Wynn's attorneys argued that the problem with the two pages was that, in them, Stuart had broken a confidentiality agreement surrounding the first meeting -- "an agreement not to tell anybody about the meeting, that Steve Wynn and I were supposed to have," says Stuart.
But Wynn had already broken that agreement too, according to the publisher.
"He talked about it on a radio station and we had a tape of that, and he talked to the New York Times."
Stuart says the judge in that case got irritated over the lack of specifics coming from Wynn and his attorneys on the question of whether Wynn had talked with the Times.
"So the judge got angry," said Stuart. "She said, 'Listen, we're in Las Vegas; call him up, he's here.' So she gave them a week to bring in an affidavit."
When Wynn's affidavit came in, it said, according to Stuart, that "he did remember talking to the Times, but he didn't remember what he said.
"So that bullshit didn't work, and that case is pretty dead. At the same time, they still tried to go ahead, saying 'Even if he broke it, Stuart also broke it!'
Stuart calls that "a real dopey" argument.
"And of course the judge wouldn't have any of that. That case they want to withdraw, but we're not letting them.
"That's the third case. And then he's suing me in Kentucky, for libel, for the book. Now, Kentucky is the best state in the union for people bringing libel actions. Which is why they picked Kentucky; it took us a while to figure that out."


But even there, says Lyle Stuart, Wynn is having little luck.
Although the Barricade counsel moved to have Wynn's Kentucky suit thrown out -- on the grounds that Kentucky was not the right forum -- the court in that jurisdiction gave Wynn 30 days to appear and, according to Stuart, explain personally why there should be a libel case in Kentucky.
On the very last day, said the publisher, Wynn appeared.
"He said [the book] was going to destroy a deal he had going there. So they said, 'What deal?' He said, 'It's a secret deal,' So the court said, 'When you're ready to tell us what it is, you come back again.' And so that was the last of that.
"So.. the whole thing is a farce, really..."
The suit brought by Barricade Books charges Wynn with "tortuous interference," a legal term for interference with contracts.
"They've interfered with our agreements," says Stuart, "by threatening about 52 people with their 2-and-a-half-pound package that they sent all over the world, saying that if they had anything to do with this book, they would sue."
The publisher says Wynn's ploy did frighten the two largest distributors in America away from carrying Smith's book.
"Ingram is the largest; they're the one who chickened out right away. The second one, Baker and Taylor, continued to sell it. In fact, they sold 3,000 the following week, and then when they heard ... that Ingram was frightened, they decided maybe they better not carry it. So they stopped.
"So we think we have a pretty good case," says Stuart. "They also frightened the airport shop in Las Vegas.
"I mean they've gone place after place after place. And threatening everybody, threatening agents, threatening salesmen, you know, threatening book shops. So we have a pretty good case. Our case is solid; their case, I think, is going to fall apart.
"You know, he doesn't care about money -- Wynn -- and the lawyers love it, because they can fly to New York, and spend a day here, taking somebody's deposition who's never heard of the book, and then fly back..."
Stuart says Wynn's phalanx of lawyers have deposed everyone in sight, even the Barricade Books receptionist.
"I think they took six or seven people connected to the company. They took everybody whose name they could find in the catalog. It was kind of dumb.


  

"The big strength of our case is, they made all these threats without even seeing what's in the book. It was only afterward that they saw the book. And much of what they accused us of saying, wasn't in the book."
Electric Nevada sought responses from Los Angeles attorney Barry Langberg, Wynn's lead counsel on the various suits going on around the country, and also from Wynn's Mirage Resorts headquarters in Las Vegas.
In Los Angeles, neither Langberg nor his assisting counsel responded to calls by press time. At Mirage Resorts, Allen Feldman, vice president of public affairs, said Mirage would not comment, nor would it make available a package of allegations sent to booksellers and book distributors around the United States.
"Well, you're welcome to get a copy of any of the court documents involved," said Feldman. "We won't comment on this, now that it's in litigation."
Electric Nevada received from Barricade Books a copy of the original May catalog page that triggered Wynn's initial lawsuit, and also a copy of a slightly revised page from the company's October listing.
In the revisions, publisher Stuart appeared to


have made some effort to be less bellicose.
For example, both texts spoke of Wynn's "carefully crafted public image" of "the handsome, university-educated operator in the modern mob-free casino industry."
However, while the ensuing text in May had said "The image is fiction," in October it said "The trouble is that the image may be fiction."
The May text had said " Running Scared discloses the true Steve Wynn, a dark picture Wynn has fought hard to keep in the closet of his past."
But the October text said " Running Scared reveals a somewhat different Steve Wynn, one whose reality Wynn has fought to keep in the closet of his past."
And while the May text had said the book "details why a confidential Scotland Yard report called Wynn a front man for the Genovese family," the October text rephrased it as "a confidential Scotland Yard report, published here for the first time, revealed things about Wynn that deprived him of a license to open a Steve Wynn casino in London."


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