The Nevada State Supreme Court voted 5-to deny Las Vegas casino executive Steve Wynn a rehearing of its earlier decision to throw out a $3.2-million judgment in a libel suit Wynn filed against Barricade Books and its publisher, Lyle Stuart.
The decision could mean a new trial if Wynn decides to take the maverick publisher back to court. However, as PW went to press, Wynn's L.A.-based lawyer, Barry Langberg, had not returned a phone query about his plans.
The $3.2-million judgment was originally levied against Stuart after a lower court ruled in 1997 that Wynn had been libeled by a statement in the publisher's catalogue copy for the book Running Scared: The Life and Treacherous Times of Las Vegas Casino King Steve Wynn by John L. Smith. The catalogue copy suggested that a Scotland Yard report had linked Wynn to organized crime. Smith has since been dropped from the suit. The lower court judgment was thrown out on appeal earlier this year, at which time Wynn applied for rehearing.
Barricade Books has been in Chapter 11 bankruptcy since the 1997 ruling. Stuart told PW he expects to get out of bankruptcy within the next month. Stuart has been defiant since the suit was filed, vowing to keep the book in print; a new edition of Running Scared was released by Four Walls Eight Windows in March. Stuart also claims to have investors ready to put up to $20 million in investment money into Barricade Books. He told PW of plans to immediately ramp up Barricade's publishing program with a "roll-up" acquisition of eight to 12 smaller publishers. "They're small publishers grossing $300,000 to $1 million a year. They all have several backlist titles that are working well, and we want them," said Stuart. He declined to name the publishers or investors in question.
Stuart's lawyer, David Blasband, of the firm McLaughlin & Stern, said that the court has ruled that Wynn is "entitled to a new trial. But we don't know what he's going to do." Blasband said the Nevada Supreme Court overruled the libel judgment because the lower court judge gave improper instructions to the jury.