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Carri Geer Thevenot

Court rules Sands China must defend case in Nevada

6 November 2015

Clark County District Judge Elizabeth Gonzalez will continue to preside over a wrongful termination case filed five years ago against Sands China Ltd., the Nevada Supreme Court has ruled.

In an unpublished order filed Wednesday, the high court agreed with Gonzalez's rationale "as to why it would be reasonable to require Sands China to appear in Nevada state court."

However, the ultimate question of jurisdiction will be decided at trial, according to the order. The trial currently is set to begin June 27 in Gonzalez's Las Vegas courtroom.

Steven Jacobs, former president and CEO of Sands China, filed the lawsuit shortly after he was fired in 2010.

Gonzalez conducted an evidentiary hearing before concluding in May that she has jurisdiction over Sands China in the case. The hearing featured four days of testimony from Sheldon Adelson, the billionaire chairman and CEO of Las Vegas Sands Corp. Both Adelson and Las Vegas Sands are defendants in the case.

Sands China, a Cayman Islands corporation with Macau as its principal place of business, is 70% owned by Las Vegas Sands.

The company "will not suffer any burden defending this action in Nevada," Gonzalez wrote in her ruling.

In March, Gonzalez ordered hefty sanctions against Sands China for improperly withholding documents in the case. One sanction barred the company from calling witnesses during the jurisdiction hearing. Adelson was called as a witness by the plaintiff.

Sands China later asked the Supreme Court to vacate the judge's orders regarding both the sanctions and jurisdiction. Renowned Harvard University law professor Alan Dershowitz joined the Sands legal team for oral arguments on Sept. 1.

"The case should proceed against Mr. Adelson, against LVS," Dershowitz told the high court. "They have plenty of defendants to sue, but this court should rule that the case should be dismissed against the Macau defendant."

Sands China also asked for the case to be reassigned to a different judge, arguing in a motion that Gonzalez's rulings "continue to evidence this jurist's bias and hostility toward defendants and further calls into question her ability to preside over this case as an impartial judicial officer."

The Supreme Court denied the request. In addition, the high court upheld a $250,000 sanction levied by Gonzalez against Sands China.