Tarkanian V. Schneider: Jury says lawmaker defamed opponent

TARKANIAN V. SCHNEIDER: Jury says lawmaker defamed opponent

Coach’s son gets $50,000 in actual damages

Las Vegas Review-Journal (Las Vegas, NV)
August 2, 2009

By LAWRENCE MOWER, LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL

A jury late Friday handed down a verdict and $50,000 in damages in
favor of Danny Tarkanian in his long-running legal feud against State
Sen. Mike Schneider, D-Las Vegas.

At about 10:30 p.m., and after deliberating for more than three hours,
the jury found Tarkanian’s claims were justified, according to
Tarkanian and his attorney, Gus Flangas.

"It was very gratifying — very nerve-racking, but very gratifying,"
Tarkanian said Saturday.

The lawsuit stemmed from a vicious 2004 state Senate campaign between
the two men. After losing the race, Tarkanian sued Schneider, claiming
that he was defamed and libeled during the campaign.

Tarkanian, who was running as a Republican in a heavily Democratic
district, was accused of acting as a resident agent for several
companies that later were investigated for illegal telemarketing scams
that victimized the elderly.

Schneider also suggested that Tarkanian turned "state’s evidence" to
save himself in a criminal investigation.

Flangas said Saturday that he asked the jury for $30,000 in damages
over comments Schneider made about Tarkanian on the "Face to Face"
show with journalist Jon Ralston, $10,000 for fliers mailed out by
Schneider’s campaign and $10,000 for comments Schneider made about the
status of Tarkanian’s law license.

The jury awarded all of that, plus determined that the case was
eligible for punitive damages. Flangas said Tarkanian could be awarded
up to $300,000 during the punitive phase of the trial, which starts
Monday.

Schneider released a statement Saturday saying he was "shocked and
saddened" by the verdict.

The statement continued: "I entered public service to serve the people
of Nevada and have always upheld the law. My family and I are spending
time together. I respect Nevada’s judiciary system and am hopeful for
a positive resolution of this matter."

Tarkanian said the amount of the award was not as important as having
the facts cleared up.

"I was going to settle the case for a lot, lot less if Mike had
acknowledged that at the time he made the statements he thought they
were true but he learned later that they were false," Tarkanian said.

Schneider would not agree to that, Tarkanian said.

Tarkanian was a registered agent for several telemarketing companies
that were indicted on fraud charges, but he said in later interviews
that he was merely an attorney who did legal work on behalf of the
companies and knew nothing of the fraud.

The same claims came up in a 2006 campaign for secretary of state,
which he lost to Democrat Ross Miller. Tarkanian said he wanted to sue
the first person who made the claims. He said he can’t sue Miller
anyway because the statute of limitations has expired.

Tarkanian, the son of legendary former UNLV basketball coach Jerry
Tarkanian and Las Vegas City Councilwoman Lois Tarkanian, said he is
considering running for office again.

He wouldn’t say for what but felt he wouldn’t be able to win had the
claims against him not been cleared up.

Contact reporter Lawrence Mower at [email protected] or
702-383-0440.

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