(CN) - Girls Gone Wild mogul Joe Francis persuaded a judge to more than halve a $40 million defamation award that a jury ordered him to pay casino owner Steve Wynn.
The ruling stems from a 2010 complaint Wynn filed against Francis in Los Angeles over comments that Francis made to celebrity gossip website TMZ.
Jurors found that Francis had slandered Wynn by claiming that Wynn had threatened to kill Francis and bury him in the desert over a gambling debt.
Quincy Jones, a Grammy-winning producer who lives near Francis, refuted Francis' claims that he had relayed the threats Wynn supposedly made.
Francis appealed the September verdicts that required him to pay Wynn $20 million, plus another $20 in punitive damages.
Judge Joanne O'Donnell cut the award down to $19 million last week, deducting the punitive damages award plus a million that was awarded based on comments Francis made to "Good Morning America" about Wynn.
The ruling nevertheless affirms that Francis defamed Wynn in the talk show interview as well as on two other occasions.
Wynn, a billionaire mogul who controls the Mirage, Bellagio, Wynn Las Vegas and Encore, had said he intended to donate the money to charity.
Wynn first sued Francis in July 2008, claiming the much-sued soft-core porn king owed $2 million in gambling debts from February 2007. Wynn sued again a month later, claiming Francis defamed him with a false accusation that Wynn stiffs his high rollers.
Francis has maintained that he already paid his alleged debt through agreements and discounts. He also reportedly plans to appeal the remaining $19 million judgment.
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