Billionaire Steve Wynn is suing his former casino company and the Massachusetts Gaming Commission, alleging that Wynn Resorts has improperly handed over privileged documents to the commission for its investigation into sexual misconduct claims against him.
The suit seeks to prevent the commission from releasing any investigative report if it contains privileged materials.
Gaming commission investigators “have conducted their months-long investigation into Wynn Resorts with total disregard for protecting the privileged communications of Mr. Wynn,” states the lawsuit, filed Wednesday in district court in Clark County, Nev. “Mass Gaming officials have simply donned the judge’s robe, cracked the gavel, and unilaterally determined 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.”
The gaming commission launched its investigation into Wynn Resorts after a Wall Street Journal report in January that contained allegations of sexual misconduct against Steve Wynn, the founder of Wynn Resorts and its then-chief executive.
Massachusetts investigators want to know who in the company knew about the allegations and what, if anything, they did about them.
Wynn resigned from the company in early February, then sold his stock in Wynn Resorts and moved out of the villa he had occupied at the Wynn Las Vegas resort on the Vegas strip. Wynn has denied assaulting any women.
Work on the company’s Everett casino, Encore Boston Harbor, has continued through the investigation. The $2.6 billion gambling resort along the Mystic River is scheduled to open in about eight months.
Steve Wynn’s lawsuit alleges that his former company “has provided Mass Gaming with scores of documents reflecting communications protected by Mr. Wynn’s attorney-client privilege and/or the common interest agreements he entered with Wynn Resorts.”
The suit seeks to prevent the gaming commission from publicly releasing an investigative report “that contains, discloses or otherwise relies upon Mr. Wynn’s attorney-client privileged communications or other protected material, including material protected by Mr. Wynn’s privacy rights.”
In a statement, the gaming commission said the lawsuit is no surprise given Steve Wynn’s “litigious tendencies.”
“The commission has retained legal representation in Nevada to mount a vigorous defense against his effort to block the release of our months-long investigatory report and to defend against Mr. Wynn’s baseless claims for damages,” said commission spokeswoman Elaine Driscoll. “It is our intention to bring this matter to a swift resolution. The [commission’s investigative arm] remains focused on its preparations to soon present the commission with the full extent of its findings.”
It is unclear if the lawsuit will affect the timetable for the commission’s investigation, Driscoll said. The commission is expected to hold a hearing on its findings in December.
In September, longtime commission chairman Stephen P. Crosby resigned, saying he had recently been accused twice of “prejudging the outcome” of the investigation.
“I simply cannot let my involvement in these critical deliberations be used by others to hamper the commission’s ability to do its work, or to undermine the confidence of the public in that work,” Crosby wrote in a resignation letter.
Lawsuits have been commonplace throughout the long effort to build a casino in greater Boston. A sampling: Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh and the cities of Somerville and Revere have each sued the gaming commission. Caesars Entertainment, a onetime bidder for a casino license, sued the commission’s former chairman. Mohegan Sun, a losing bidder for the license, sued the commission. And the former owners of the Suffolk Downs racetrack, a partner in a losing bid, have sued Wynn Resorts. That lawsuit remains unresolved.