Joe Francis Jury Verdict: ‘Girls Gone Wild’ Founder Loses $20 Million Jury Trial

Joe Francis is going to have to sell a lot more DVDs because he’s now on the hook for a $20 million jury verdict.

A jury ruled in favor of Las Vegas casino mogul Steve Wynn today in Wynn’s slander lawsuit against Francis, the Girls Gone Wild founder/creator, after a four-day trial. Francis claimed Wynn, the billionaire CEO of Wynn Resorts, threatened to kill him over an unpaid $2 million gambling debt dating back to 2007, and Wynn — who called it a “terrible lie” — sued him in civil court in Los Angeles.

The New York Post explains:

In siding with Wynn, the jury determined that there was clear and convincing evidence that Francis slandered the casino mogul and knew his allegations were false when he made them.

According to TMZ, $11 million was added to the total verdict by the jury was for defamatory statements Francis made on Good Morning America.

Francis claimed that Quincy Jones, the Grammy winning music producer and mutual friend of both men, told him that Wynn wanted him dead, but Jones testified in court that that never happened.

The jurors in the Joe Francis-Steve Wynn case will return to the courtroom next Tuesday to decide if Wynn will get an additional $12 million in punitive damages.

A jury verdict of this magnitude is virtually always appealed, and even if upheld, the appellate court sometimes reduces the award. Francis has said that his lawyers will appeal, and that he stands by his story “100 percent,” according to the New York Daily News. Steve Wynn has announced that he will donate the final jury award — minus legal fees — to charity. This outcome is even more remarkable in that those considered “public figures” under legal precedent hardly ever are successful in suing for libel or slander.

[Image credit: Mantra Films Inc.]