SAN FRANCICSO (CN) – Casino mogul Stephen Wynn must pay $422,380 in legal fees after losing his lawsuit accusing a hedge fund manager of defaming him in a speech.
U.S. District Judge William Orrick on Friday awarded James Chanos $390,149.63 in attorney’s fees and $32,231.23 in legal costs.
Chanos is founder and president of Kynikos Associates, a New York City hedge fund that specializes in short selling.
Wynn, CEO and chairman of the board of Wynn Resorts, claimed that Chanos defamed him in an April 25, 2014 conference on the Macau gaming industry , at the UC-Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism.
Wynn objected to Chanos’ statement: “Wynn and Wynn Resorts had violated the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA).”
Orrick dismissed Wynn’s defamation complaint without prejudice on Dec. 16, 2014. Orrick ruled that Chanos did not make any maliciously false statements.
Orrick dismissed Wynn’s amended complaint in March, finding that it by “disregards the plain language of what Chanos said,” which was “describing the risk to his clients’ money.”
Chanos sought $538,043 in attorney’s fees and $52,656.23 in costs. Wynn objected, calling the rates “unreasonable” for the rates paid in the San Francisco area or for attorneys that specialize in defamation cases.
Chanos based the rates on the cost of his longtime attorneys, Kenneth Hausman and Douglas Winthrop, and for attorney Gary Bostwick, who even Wynn concedes is “‘one of the country’s preeminent anti-SLAPP and defamation attorneys,'” Orrick wrote.
“It is reasonable to retain both a longtime law firm that is familiar with a client and a specialist in the litigation at hand. This is especially true for cases, such as this one, where an individual’s personal reputation is at stake,” Orrick ruled.
“Chanos did not hire two separate law firms, but one large law firm and one attorney from a small law firm who specialized in defamation lawsuits. Each firm brought a separate set of skills and resources, and it was not unreasonable to retain both.”
But Orrick said using such experienced attorneys should have led to greater efficiency, fewer hours billed and more detailed billing information, so he reduced the award.
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