The Nevada Supreme Court has denied a request to remove a district judge hearing a wrongful termination lawsuit filed by Steve Jacobs five years ago after he was dismissed as president and chief executive of Macau casino operator Sands China Ltd.
According to statements from Sands China’s lawyers quoted by the Las Vegas Review-Journal newspaper on Thursday, Sands China had argued that rulings so far by Clark County District Judge Elizabeth Gonzalez “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The Las Vegas Sun newspaper, citing the unpublished state supreme court ruling, said comments and rulings by Judge Gonzalez did not show bias and that lawyers for Sands China failed to file required documents for the case to be reassigned.
The higher court also upheld a US$250,000 sanction imposed in March by the judge after she had ruled Sands China had improperly withheld documents relevant to the case.
Another issue – the question of jurisdiction – will be decided at District Court trial, according to the higher court’s order. Judge Gonzalez had barred Sands China from calling witnesses during court hearings relating to the jurisdiction issue.
Sands China had argued – among other things – that because Macau is its principal place of business, the wrongful termination suit should be heard there.
Sands China is 70-percent owned by Las Vegas Sands Corp, which is based in Las Vegas, Nevada. Sheldon Adelson, chairman and chief executive of Las Vegas Sands, has been called as a witness by the plaintiff’s side.
Mr Jacobs maintains he was promised, under his contract, stock worth millions of dollars, but never received anything after his 2010 dismissal.
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“All of the [casino] concessionaires in Macau respect the law in China, and we never promote gaming in China”
Wilfred Wong Ying Wai
President of Macau casino operator Sands China