"Girls Gone Wild
" honcho Joe Francis
just saved a TON of money ... without even switching to Geico ... 'cause a judge slashed the amount of damages he has to pay Steve Wynn by $21 MILLION, TMZ has learned.
Francis had previously been ordered to fork over $40 million in damages to Wynn for defaming the casino mogul ... after Francis told the media Wynn had threatened to have him killed and buried in the Vegas desert.
Now, a judge has reduced the judgment by $21 million -- ruling that Wynn wasn't really entitled to punitive damages after all.
According to the judge, punitive damages need to be based off the defendants net worth -- and Wynn failed to prove exactly how much money Francis has.
Wynn claims he couldn't come through with a number because Francis is hiding his assets ... but it didn't matter to the judge.
Francis released a statement to TMZ ... calling the ruling a "massive victory" ... and saying he plans to "aggressively appeal the remaining causes of action." Francis says, "Steve may have a winning record stealing the life savings away from working Americans in his safe haven of Las Vegas, but he will not be able to manipulate the California court system” [Read Joe's entire statement after the jump
Wynn's rep issued a statement to TMZ saying Steve is still "delighted" with the verdict ... adding, "The court upholding the $19 million in damages confirms that Joe Francis made horrible, false accusations against Steve Wynn."
Casino mogul Steve Wynn
wants to make damn sure Joe Francis
never calls him a wannabe murderer ever again -- and is now asking a judge to put a big fat sock in Francis' mouth.
Wynn just filed a request for a permanent injunction against Francis, claiming the "Girls Gone Wild" honcho is likely to continue to make false and defamatory accusations if the court doesn't stop him.
Wynn says he's afraid Francis is a loose cannon if left unchecked -- and any accusations he makes against Wynn are likely to cause irreparable harm ... specifically accusations about Wynn trying to murder him.
You'll recall, Francis recently LOST after Wynn sued him for defamation. Wynn claimed Francis made bogus claims that Wynn threatened to have him murdered over a gambling debt.
Francis was already ordered to pay $40 million in damages
in the lawsuit, but Wynn is worried that's not enough to stop him from continuing to run his mouth.
just got hit with ANOTHER $20 million verdict in his defamation battle with casino mogul Steve Wynn --
on top of the $20 million Wynn was awarded yesterday.
The additional $20 million is for punitive damages in Steve Wynn
's defamation lawsuit against the "Girls Gone Wild
" honcho, in which Wynn claimed Francis made bogus claims that Wynn threatened to have him murdered over a gambling debt.
Francis was hit with $20 million in compensatory damages yesterday -- for statements made to TMZ, "Good Morning America," and more.
All told, Francis has to pay Wynn $40 million.
Wynn has promised to donate the money to charity
. Joe said he plans to contest the verdict and expects the decision to be overturned.
Following the new verdict, Wynn released a statement, saying, "Joe Francis represents a new kind of criminal type: the digital assassin. He takes advantage of the protection afforded by the internet to issue intentionally destructive charges against someone’s reputation."
He adds, "Thank God for the justice system that finally sent a message."
just got hammered by a jury in Steve Wynn
's defamation lawsuit -- the jury socked him with a $20 million verdict.
If you recall ... Wynn was suing Francis for defamation, claiming the "Girls Gone Wild
" guru made bogus claims that Wynn threatened to have him killed and buried in the desert over a gambling debt.
The judge nailed Francis to the tune of $5 mil for statements made to a TMZ producer in a courtroom hallway ... talking smack on Wynn.
The jury added $11 mil for defamatory statements Francis made on "Good Morning America."
All tolled, the verdict is for $20 mil.
The jury will now decide if Francis gets hit with punitive damages .. and that could be an additional $60 mil.
Francis is worth a reported $150 million.
Francis tells TMZ he believes the judge made 2 reversible and appealable errors -- one of which was allowing Wynn to add the 'GMA' claim at the end of the trial. Francis also believes some of the statements that allegedly constitute defamation were made in a court proceeding where Francis was seeking a restraining order against Wynn and were therefore privileged.
This is awesome ... 70-year-old billionaire casino mogul Steve Wynn
just unloaded on "Girls Gone Wild
" honcho Joe Francis
outside an L.A. courthouse -- calling Joe "a miserable vicious assassin" and a "liar."
Wynn was outside court today for his ongoing defamation suit against Francis -- in which Francis accused Wynn of threatening to kill him and bury him in the desert -- and the casino magnate went OFF.
Wynn called Francis' accusations "the ravings of a miserable vicious assassin, a liar who just didn't want to pay his debt and decided to make up a story about a guy who he never set his eyes on or ever met. Me."
Wynn -- who's seeking $12 mil -- also said he plans to donate whatever damages he's awarded in this lawsuit to charity -- specifically to battered women and wounded soldiers ... minus the lawyers' cut of course.
"Girls Gone Wild
" honcho Joe Francis
swears ... Steve Wynn
threatened to end his life -- telling TMZ, Quincy Jones
just LIED on the stand about Wynn's alleged murder plot in order to protect the casino mogul.
As we reported, Quincy testified moments ago
-- insisting he never saw an email from Steve Wynn detailing a murder plot against Francis. Quincy said he never even heard Wynn threaten Francis.
But Francis believes Quincy is in Wynn's back pocket -- telling us, "[Quincy] is lying for Steve Wynn. I swear on my life, God strike me down, that I am telling the 100% truth in this matter."
He adds, "The fat lady hasn't sung yet."
Francis' lawyer is cross-examining Quincy this very moment.
As we reported, Quincy was subpoenaed to testify in Wynn's defamation suit against Francis, in which Francis has claimed Wynn threatened to have him buried in the desert over a gambling debt.
just testified ... he NEVER saw an email from casino mogul Steve Wynn
threatening to kill "Girls Gone Wild
" honcho Joe Francis
-- despite Francis' claims he was the target in a Wynn murder plot.
TMZ broke the story ... 79-year-old Quincy was subpoenaed
to testify in Steve Wynn's defamation lawsuit against Francis, in which the "GGW" creator has claimed Wynn threatened to kill him and have him buried in the desert over a gambling debt Francis owed to Wynn's casino.
According to Francis, Quincy had seen an email from Wynn describing the alleged murder plot -- so Wynn called on Quincy to testify in order to show Francis was lying.
And Quincy didn't disappoint -- taking the stand today, claiming he never heard Wynn threaten Francis ... let alone saw an email detailing murder plans.
The questioning lasted mere minutes -- with Wynn's lawyer even trying to lighten the mood, asking Quincy, "So I hear you're in the music business."
Quincy laughed, replying, "65 years ... that's all."
So far, no response from Joe.
has had a change of heart -- he WILL testify against "Girls Gone Wild
" creator Joe Francis
in a crazy lawsuit involving an alleged murder plot ... despite the fact that the judge gave him a pass.
TMZ broke the story ... Quincy was subpoenaed
to testify in Steve Wynn
's defamation lawsuit against Francis, in which the "GGW" creator has claimed Wynn threatened to kill him and have him buried in the desert over a debt Francis owed to Wynn's casino.
According to Francis, Quincy had seen an email from Wynn detailing the alleged murder plot -- so Wynn called on 79-year-old Quincy to testify in order to show Francis was lying.
Quincy claimed he was too sick to testify -- claiming he experienced heart palpitations and shortness of breath after getting served with a subpoena -- and the judge agreed.
But now Quincy has changed his mind -- we're told he WILL testify against Francis because he believes it's the right thing to do.
Sources tell us Quincy will tell the jury he NEVER saw any email from Steve Wynn about an alleged murder plot -- and he wants to set the record straight in the name of justice.
He's expected to show up in court to testify next Tuesday or Wednesday.
Francis tells TMZ, "Even if Quincy Jones has been forced by Steve Wynn and his cronies to testify and possibly lie for Wynn, which I still don't believe is the case, I am 100 percent confident that I will win this case."
Music legend Quincy Jones
claims Steve Wynn
and Joe Francis
' legal war over an alleged murder plot has caused him "grave fear of his health" -- including difficulty breathing and heart palpitations.
TMZ broke the story ... Jones was subpoenaed to testify
in Wynn's defamation lawsuit against Francis, in which the "Girls Gone Wild" creator has claimed Wynn threatened to kill him and have him buried in the desert over a debt Francis owed to Wynn's casino.
According to Francis, Jones had seen an email from Wynn detailing the murder plot -- so Wynn called on 79-year-old Jones to testify in order to prove Francis was full of crap.
But right after he was served with a subpoena last week at the airport, Jones claims he experienced "increased anxiety, heart palpitations, and difficulty breathing."
Jones then got a letter from his doctor asking to be excused from the trial, in which his doc writes, "I have examined Mr. Jones and at this time I highly recommend that he not be required to testify in a court setting that will only exacerbate his current deteriorating condition."
The subpoena has since been quashed and Jones is no longer required to testify.
-- one of the most important people in the history of music and TV -- has been dragged into the center of an alleged murder plot involving two tycoons ... TMZ has learned.
Quincy has been called to testify in a nasty war between "Girls Gone Wild
" creator Joe Francis
and Vegas mogul Steve Wynn
According to court docs obtained by TMZ, Francis claims Wynn threatened to kill him and have him buried in the desert over a debt Joe owed to his casino. Francis insists Quincy actually saw an email from Wynn detailing the murder plot.
But Wynn is calling full BS on Joe ... claiming no such email exists ... and now he's calling on Quincy to testify in court to set the record straight once and for all.
The trial is scheduled to begin next week -- and according to the court docs, Quincy is all set to take the stand as a witness for Wynn.
Stay tuned ...
hopefully saved a bunch of money from his "Girls Gone Wild
" empire, because a judge just ordered him to pay Las Vegas mogul Steve Wynn
Wynn filed the defamation lawsuit, after Francis said he was going to reveal how Wynn deceived his high-end customers.
The judge determined Francis damaged Wynn's reputation to the tune of $5 million. And the judge heaped on an addition $2.5 million in punitive damages, which serves as punishment for reckless disregard for the truth.
Francis' lawyer, David Houston
, tells TMZ, "We will appeal this order. Joe was not allowed to defend himself."
Francis and Houston tell us, "Even if this order stands, it will only be a small offset from the 10's of millions of dollars that we are requesting from Steve Wynn in another lawsuit -- in a less Wynn-friendly courtroom."