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Gaming Guru

Tim O'Reiley

Judgment calls for Las Vegas Sands to pay Suen $101.6 million

29 May 2013

LAS VEGAS -- The amount Las Vegas Sands Corp. owes to the company owned by one-time consultant Richard Suen grew by nearly half to $101.6 million in the final judgment signed Tuesday by Clark County District Judge Rob Bare.

Two weeks ago, the 12-member jury set the value of Suen’s work in helping Sands break into the booming Macau market at $70 million. Interest, running at the rate of 5.25 percent from the Oct. 20, 2004, filing of the case until now has reached $31.6 million and will continue to grow at an $8,400-a-day clip until the judgment is actually paid or overturned on appeal.

After the jury read its decision on May 14, Sands issued a statement that the trial’s outcome reflected numerous flaws and would be appealed to the Nevada Supreme Court.

“We think this verdict will withstand any appeal,” said Suen attorney John O’Malley at the time. “The question we have for Mr. (Sheldon) Adelson is, when will he pay this debt.”

Adelson is chairman and CEO of Sands, who first met with Suen in mid-2000. That began a sometimes rocky relationship with Suen in the quest for a Macau gaming license.

Sands obtained its Macau franchise at the end of 2002, but elected not to pay Suen anything. At trial, the company said it succeeded through its own efforts, but Suen contended that his advice and strategic plan was what ultimately worked for the company.

Bare signed the judgment form submitted by Suen’s attorneys rather than a competing one drawn up by the Sands legal team. The latter version pointed out that jurors awarded money only to his company, Round Square Co. Ltd., and had turned down any recovery for Suen himself and rejected the claim that he and Round Square had a contract with Sands. The final judgment only mentions a verdict for Round Square, not the grounds or which requests were rejected.

The jury placed the $70 million award under the legal theory known as quantum meruit, which sets a value on the work even if there was no signed deal.

Sands attorneys also set the stage for the next battle, concerning whether it will have to pay Suen’s legal fees. The judgment Bare signed includes a line that the attorney bills will be handled later, something that Sands wanted excluded. Suen’s attorneys have 20 days to put in their request.

The first trial in the case five years ago ended with a $43.8 million verdict in Suen’s favor that grew to about $58 million with fees and interest. The Nevada Supreme Court overturned it in 2010 due to the amount of hearsay evidence Suen’s attorneys put into the record to make their case.