Judge dismisses Las Vegas hotel’s lawsuit against blogger

October 21, 2020 GMT

LAS VEGAS (AP) — A Nevada judge dismissed a lawsuit brought by a Las Vegas hotel and casino against a blogger who reported a rumor the property would close.

District Judge Trevor Atkin on Tuesday dismissed the lawsuit alleging defamation by trade libel filed by Sahara Las Vegas against Scott Roeben, who runs the website vitalvegas.com, The Las Vegas Review-Journal reports.

Sahara’s lawyers agreed to drop all but one of five charges in the complaint filed in August.

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Sahara filed the lawsuit after Roeben posted a social media message saying, “Gut punch of the day: Rumor is Sahara could close permanently in September. Permanently.”

“This startling rumor is unconfirmed, but there’s no denying Sahara was having a rough go of it even prior to the COVID-19 crisis,” Roeben wrote.

Roeben’s attorney, Marc Randazza, argued in court documents that he received the information from an employee of a business liquidation company, who was not named.

Sahara’s lawyers took issue with Roeben’s alleged failure to call the company to confirm the rumor. Randazza countered that Roeben “was previously advised that they would never speak to him.”

Sahara said in a statement after the ruling that the company was disappointed but believed the ruling demonstrates Roeben’s article “is not something that can be relied upon for any factual, useful, or credible information.”

The judge’s decision would protect journalists, Randazza said.

“I’m not really sure why they brought this in the first place,” Randazza said. “It was very ill-considered.”

Roeben, whose Twitter feed has more than 77,000 followers, took to social media after the decision to dismiss what he called a “frivolous” lawsuit.

“Free speech is worth the fight,” Roeben wrote.