Nevada judge shields Wynn documents in Massachusetts review
LAS VEGAS (AP) — Documents collected by the Massachusetts Gaming Commission during a review of sexual misconduct allegations involving casino mogul Steve Wynn will remain secret, at least temporarily, under a ruling Friday by a Nevada judge.
Commission lawyers, its investigations chief and an attorney for Las Vegas-based Wynn Resorts Ltd. didn’t immediately say whether the ruling will impact a decision about the suitability of Wynn’s former company to operate a $2 billion casino and hotel due to open this year in the Boston area.
The commission previously said its report could affect a gambling license issued to the company in 2014, including possible sanctions or revocation.
Clark County District Court Judge Elizabeth Gonzalez said after a 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.
Wynn, the builder of a casino empire with properties on the Las Vegas Strip and the Chinese enclave of Macau, resigned last February as Wynn Resorts chief executive and chairman, days after the Wall Street Journal reported allegations that he engaged in sexual misconduct with female employees.
He denies wrongdoing and sued the Massachusetts Gaming Commission and investigator Karen Wells in November to keep its report from being made public.
The judge noted Friday that 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.
Massachusetts Gaming Commission spokeswoman Elaine Driscoll in Boston said commissioners plan to discuss the case and the company’s suitability review at a Jan. 10 meeting.
Wynn’s name has been removed from the project now called Encore Boston Harbor.
This story has been updated to delete a paragraph referring to an exchange between the judge and a person in the courtroom. Karen Wells was not in the courtroom.