Casino Lawyers Say OJ Simpson’s Reputation Too Tarnished to Defame

  • Lawsuit relates to Simpson being barred from Cosmopolitan Hotel and Casino in Vegas
  • Hotel lawyers say his reputation would not be tarnished by decision due to past transgressions
  • Simpson’s lawyer labeled argument as immoral, cited cases related to issues of race
  • Cosmopolitan lawyers requested change of judge and private arbitration rather than public trial
Cosmopolitan Hotel sign in Las Vegas
Lawyers fighting a lawsuit filed by O.J. Simpson against the Cosmoplitan Hotel in Vegas have said his reputation is already too tarnished to defame. [Image:]

The Cosmopolitan fights back

Lawyers representing the Cosmopolitan Hotel and Casino have responded to O.J. Simpson’s November 2019 defamation claim, saying the former football star’s reputation has already been tarnished.

lawyers pointed towards the civil and criminal trials Simpson has been associated with

The hotel’s legal representatives said any media reports about Simpson being “angry” or “wasted” on the date in question would not have led to any “tangible damage to his reputation.”

To back their argument, the Cosmopolitan’s lawyers pointed towards the civil and criminal trials Simpson has been associated with. These include the murder trial for the deaths in 1994 of his ex-wife and one of her friends in Los Angeles. They also cited his Nevada conviction and imprisonment in 2007 in relation to a case of armed robbery.

The defamation lawsuit

In November 2017, Simpson was allegedly told by hotel staff to leave the Las Vegas Strip premises for being drunk and disruptive. This led him to file a defamation suit against the Cosmopolitan, alleging he had not been drinking that day. 

In his lawsuit, the ex-footballer blamed the staff of the Cosmopolitan for informing celebrity news site TMZ about his ban from entering the hotel and casino premises. TMZ is not one of the defendants in the case. 

Claims of bias from Simpson’s lawyer

In response to the recent claims made by the defense team, Simpson’s lawyer Malcolm LaVergne submitted a court filing. It said their argument was “immoral” and reminiscent of two landmark decisions for the US Supreme Court concerning race. 

The first case took place in 1857, when a ruling from Dred Scott denied African Americans from gaining full citizenship in the United States. The second occurred in 1898 and involved Plessy versus Ferguson. This case upheld the allowance for segregated facilities. Both rulings were invalidated in subsequent years as a result of challenges in court and constitutional amendments.

LaVergne commented that he was not “playing the race card.” However, he maintained that there are “undertones that are very disturbing” from the defendants in the case, namely, the Cosmopolitan and its parent company, Nevada Property 1 LLC.

Simpson’s lawyer went on to question the defense team’s approach. He argued that, by their train of thought, anyone could say anything about O.J. Simpson without any repercussions. He labeled this as being the “slavery-segregation argument that Simpson doesn’t deserve damages.”

What happens next?

The attorneys for the Cosmopolitan did not issue any comments or responses to LaVergne’s accusations. They are instead calling on the judge to change the case from a public trial to a private arbitration. The basis for their request is that any damages would not be greater than the threshold of $50,000.

The defense team also exercised their right to reassign the case away from the Clark County District Court Judge Adriana Escobar. No explanation was given for their decision.

The case is now being dealt with by Judge Ronald Israel. LaVergne had previously said Escobar was one of only a few minority judges in the courts. 

The incident under review

O.J. Simpson, who currently lives in Las Vegas, was released from prison in October 2017 and remains on parole until 2022.

He spent nine years in a Nevada jail for attempting to retrieve memorabilia from two collectibles dealers. The incident took place in a hotel room in Las Vegas. Simpson was accompanied by five other men, two of whom had firearms.

Simpson’s complaint against the Cosmopolitan relates to a few hours he spent in a restaurant and lounge at the hotel with a couple of friends. He says he was given a trespass notice which meant he could no longer stay on the premises. 

Simpson alleges no reason was given for the ban. He fully denies the reports that he had been drinking at the time, as well as claims that he was belligerent to others in the hotel, or that he damaged any property.

Simpson’s parole officer determined the following day that he was not in violation of his probation.  

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