Sunday, October 23, 2011

Depositon abuse costs client the case

Girls Gone Wild founder Joe Francis was so obstreperous during his deposition in a civil case over a Las Vegas casino gambling debt - refusing to answer even the most innocuous questions on 5th Amendment grounds - that it lead the court to enter summary judgment against him.  From the Las Vegas Sun:

Wynn Las Vegas has won a court battle in the case involving the “Girls Gone Wild” founder and a $2 million marker at the Strip casino.

The Nevada Supreme Court on Thursday upheld the summary judgment granted by District Judge Michelle Leavitt, who ruled against Joseph Francis after he lost the money in a trip from Los Angeles in 2007.

After Francis lost the money, the casino made several efforts to collect. It then filed a civil suit, and shortly after it brought a criminal complaint of theft and passing a bad check.

When Francis showed up for his deposition in the civil suit, he invoked his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination in refusing to answer most questions, including whether he had been to Nevada, whether he was married, whether he had been to the Wynn and the names of his parents.

When the Wynn filed a motion for a summary judgment, Francis said he wanted to withdraw his Fifth Amendment answers and continue the deposition. Leavitt refused to reopen discovery and told Francis the case was “the most ridiculous exercise of the Fifth Amendment I think I’ve ever seen.”

The Nevada Supreme Court said the Wynn produced evidence to show Francis owed the marker. It said Francis failed to produce evidence to the contrary before the district court hearing on the summary judgment.

The court said, “Wynn produced evidence establishing that it did not induce Francis to gamble, alter the casino markers in any way, or engage in any of the activity that Francis alleged in his counterclaim.”

The court said, “Although answering some of Wynn’s questions at his deposition could have been incriminating, his refusal to answer nearly every question was unjustifiable.”

Hat tip to the Lawyerist blog.


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