A SUFFOLK SUPERIOR COURT JUDGE has authorized Wynn Resorts to question under oath a top aide to Boston Mayor Marty Walsh and the city’s outside legal counsel to determine who leaked to the Boston Globe a set of subpoenas that Wynn claims are libelous.
The ruling by Judge Janet Sanders doesn’t identify by name who will be deposed, but the job titles suggest Wynn’s attorneys will interview Eugene O’Flaherty, the mayor’s corporation counsel, and Thomas Frongillo, the city’s outside counsel and an attorney at the firm of Fish & Richardson. Sanders didn’t set any timetable for the depositions in her hand-written ruling.
The depositions are likely to fuel an ongoing legal war between Wynn Resorts and the city of Boston that has delayed construction of a $1.7 billion casino in Everett. Boston Mayor Marty Walsh is suing the Massachusetts Gaming Commission to block the agency’s award of a casino license to Wynn and he is also challenging the award of a key state environmental permit to Wynn.
As part of its lawsuit against the Gaming Commission, the city prepared subpoenas that were leaked to the Globe before being filed in court. The Wynn libel suit claims the subpoenas were nothing more than “public relations statements” containing two false and defamatory accusations.
“It is causing the subpoenas to be published in the Boston Globe and other news organs that gives rise to this lawsuit,” a Wynn court filing said. “That publication brought the defamatory falsehoods to the attention of the general public and caused the vast majority of plaintiffs’ reputational injury.”
Wynn’s lawsuit said the subpoenas falsely stated that two former state troopers working for the Las Vegas casino developer obtained unauthorized access to files of a state criminal investigation of Charles Lightbody, a convicted felon who allegedly held a secret interest in the Everett property Wynn purchased for its casino site. The company also said the subpoenas falsely stated that Wynn President Matthew Maddox knew about Lightbody’s interest in the property before July 2013, when the company said it first learned of Lightbody’s potential involvement.
Wynn Resorts said in its court filing that it is not seeking to hold the Globe liable for the “republication of the defamatory statements,” but noted that the subpoenas at the time of the publication of the Globe story had never been filed in court. News media are legally allowed to publish accusations made in court even if they are false.
Wynn court documents quote Richard McGowan, a gaming expert at Boston College, who said the allegations made in the subpoenas would damage Wynn’s reputation in the gaming industry.
Wynn Resorts asked Judge Sanders to authorize depositions to find out who leaked and who authorized the leak of the subpoenas to the Globe. The company also asked permission to conduct two follow-up depositions, but Sanders rejected that request.
Walsh’s office declined comment, as did Michael Weaver, a Wynn spokesman.