Suit & Suitability

Legal Action in Vegas Leads to a Slow-Down in the Bay State

By Josh Resnek

Lawyers for the Massachusetts Gaming Commission have done dismally trying to check Steve Wynn’s Nevada lawsuit against the MGC in which he alleges his rights have been trampled.

The suit has held up the long-awaited MGC investigative report into Wynn Resorts suitability from being brought out into public for debate and for action.

Last Friday, Judge Elisabeth Gomez said she was “limiting what the state of Massachusetts can rely upon, share or utilize” until it’s established whether information investigators received in interviews and depositions from Steve Wynn’s attorneys during the investigation were privileged communications.

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Steve Wynn’s name has been removed from the casino being built in Everett, but he continues to be a towering figure in the ongoing saga over the issue of “suitability.”

The Clark County District Court judge said after the hearing in Las Vegas that she was “limiting what the state of Massachusetts can rely upon, share or utilize” until she decides whether the materials contain information that Wynn’s personal lawyers argue is confidential and protected by attorney-client privilege.

Gonzalez said she was willing to release some of the material with redactions.

However, she said it’s likely that Wynn’s lawyers could prove they had a “common interest agreement” with company attorneys in a joint defense of a complaint filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in 2014, and that Wynn had a right to keep attorney-client communications confidential.

The judge noted Friday that MGC Chief Investigator Attorney Karen Wells had not obtained a waiver from the person who complained to the EEOC to allow the material to be made public.

The judge also noted that disclosure laws in Nevada appeared to be more stringent than those in Massachusetts.

“Irreparable harm exists if the privileged materials are disclosed and used by the state of Massachusetts,” the judge said.

The judge promised to review new filings and post an update Jan. 11 about possible hearing dates. She did not set a trial date in the lawsuit.

At one point during the proceedings an attorney for the MGC described Wynn as a “scorned plaintiff trying by hook or crook to gain some measure of control over the (MGC) report.” The lawsuit was designed to “intimidate and bully the investigator” with “incendiary, hyperbolic and offensive characterizations,” he claimed.

Wynn’s lawsuit has accused the MGC of conducting its investigation with “with total disregard for protecting the privileged communications of Mr. Wynn” and of “donning the judge’s robe, cracking the gavel, and unilaterally determining that Mr. Wynn has failed to sustain his burden of establishing that any privilege applies to the unknown universe of documents acquired during the Mass Gaming investigation,” he added.

In an official statement, the MGC said it would “closely review” the judge’s ruling and assess its “overall impact on the investigation.”

“We remain committed to advancing this process and identifying the appropriate next steps to expedite the completion of Wynn’s suitability review,” it added. “The MGC has a public meeting scheduled for next Thursday, and this litigation development will be on the agenda.”

The MGC had hoped to issue its verdict last December, but the judge’s decision in Las Vegas last Friday will further delay publication of its findings.

 

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