Wynn Resorts Sues CEO's Ex-Wife for Secretly Copying Files

  • Elaine Wynn’s attorneys had access to proprietary company data
  • She’s fighting to control $1 billion stake in casino operator

Wynn Resorts Ltd. sued the former wife of founder and chairman Steve Wynn for secretly letting her lawyers copy company computer hard drives as part of her attempt to get out of an agreement that ties up her $1-billion stake in the casino operator.

The company filed a complaint late Tuesday in Nevada state court accusing Elaine Wynn, a former board member, of breaching her contract and fiduciary duties and seeks punitive damages against her.

Elaine Wynn

Photographer: Gabe Ginsberg/Getty Images for RFMAS Inc.

The lawsuit is the latest round in a five-year slug fest among Steve Wynn, his ex-wife and his former business partner Kazuo Okada. The fight started when Wynn accused Okada of bribing Philippine gaming officials and forcibly redeemed his 20 percent stake in the company. The conflict escalated last year when Elaine Wynn, after losing her seat on the board, brought in new lawyers and launched a personal attack on her ex-husband.

The company claims Elaine Wynn’s new allegations were based on privileged information that her lawyers from Los Angeles firm Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan LLP found on the copies of her work files, clandestinely made in 2013 by her previous lawyers with Munger, Tolles & Olson LLP, another Los Angeles firm. Her lawyers also made a forensic image of her assistant’s computer.

James M. Cole, a lawyer for Elaine Wynn, said she was acting under the advise of her lawyers, who were working with the company’s own attorneys at the time. He said it was disappointing to see Wynn Resorts “wasting the court’s valuable time by filing a new complaint about a matter they already had before the court and abandoned when the hearing did not seem to go well for them.”

Representatives of Munger Tolles had no immediate comment.

‘Corporate Network’

“Whether Elaine and her agents covertly accessed even more information than they copied may never be known," the company said in the complaint filed in Las Vegas. “The computers were connected to Wynn Resorts’ corporate network and Elaine didn’t supervise her attorneys."

Nevada District Judge Elizabeth Gonzalez in January temporarily barred Quinn Emanuel from participating in the case for failing to disclose it had proprietary company information. The firm has since stopped representing Elaine Wynn in the lawsuit.

At a four-day court hearing this month in Las Vegas, Elaine Wynn testified that she had the Munger Tolles lawyers come to her office at Wynn Resorts on a Saturday and make images of her and her assistant’s computer hard drives. The lawyers also made forensic copies of her personal computers that could access her work computer, she said.

‘Their Counsel’

“I relied on their counsel to follow their directions," Elaine Wynn testified according to a transcript of the hearing. “And they wished to image my computer, and so I cooperated with that request."

Under questioning by a lawyer for Wynn Resorts, she said she never told the company that her lawyers had taken the information.

The case is Wynn Resorts Ltd. v. Wynn, A-17-753173-B, Clark County Nevada District Court (Las Vegas).

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