Girls Gone Wild Founder Joe Francis Loses in $20M Slander Case

Sep 10, 2012 1:00 PM PST

LOS ANGELES — A Los Angeles jury on Monday awarded casino mogul Steve Wynn $20 million after it found that he had been defamed by Girls Gone Wild founder Joe Francis.

Wynn claimed Francis made bogus claims that Wynn threatened to have him killed and buried in the Nevada desert over a $2 million gambling debt Francis had racked up.

Wynn called Francis' accusation a "terrible lie" that could potentially hurt his reputation and that of his company.

Since Wynn filed suit in 2010, Francis has maintained that the threat was real.

Musician Quincy Jones, Francis' neighbor and a longtime friend of Wynn's, told him that Wynn wanted Francis dead in an email, Francis said.

But in court, Jones said that Wynn never threatened to kill Francis, and that Jones had never told Francis that Wynn had.

According to TMZ, the court hit Francis with $5 million for statements made to a TMZ producer in a courtroom hallway and another $11 million for defamatory statements he made on "Good Morning America."

The jury will now decide if Francis gets hit with up to $60 million in punitive damages.

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