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Jury adds $20M more to Wynn slander case damages

Associated Press Modified: September 11, 2012 at 7:34 pm •  Published: September 11, 2012

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.

In a statement released after Tuesday's verdict, Wynn called Francis a "digital assassin" and urged people to think before they post things online or speak ill of others.

"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," Wynn said.

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.

"Today, I am incredibly disappointed the jury grossly misinterpreted the facts presented in the courtroom," Francis wrote in a statement. "I still maintain that my life was endangered and I plan on appealing this verdict. One day the public will see that I am the real victim here and not Steve Wynn."

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