A wrongful termination lawsuit the former chief executive of Sands China Ltd, Steve Jacobs, filed against the Macau-based company and its chairman Sheldon Adelson (pictured) can proceed in Nevada, according to a ruling on Friday.
U.S. District Court judge Elizabeth Gonzalez sitting in Las Vegas, Nevada, issued her ruling after hearing days of testimony to determine if Nevada has jurisdiction over the case.
“This matter has been pending in Nevada courts for almost five years,” judge Gonzalez wrote in a 39-page decision.
“Judicial economy would be served by continuing this litigation in Nevada. Significant time and judicial resources of the court and the parties will have been wasted if Jacobs is required to reinstate this litigation in another forum,” she added, according to U.S.-based media.
Mr Jacobs was dismissed in July 2010 for what Sands China said was “cause”. Later that year he started legal action with a claim of wrongful termination. He subsequently added a claim of defamation against Mr Adelson. His legal actions are being challenged by the defendants.
Mr Adelson testified for four days during the jurisdictional hearing, which began on April 20. The Sands China chairman told the court that he should have dismissed Mr Jacobs sooner because he “tried to kill the company”.
During the hearing, Mr Jacobs’ lawyers argued Sands China business was conducted from Nevada by parent company Las Vegas Sands Corp executives, including Mr Adelson. Defence lawyers argued Sands China is separate and that the lawsuit should have been filed in Macau.
Mr Adelson, Sands China CEO since March, attempted during testimony to distance himself from the day-to-day operations of the Macau-based casino operator at the time of the events, between 2009 and 2010.
But in Friday’s ruling, judge Gonzalez concluded that the control Mr Adelson and Las Vegas Sands have over Sands China “goes far beyond the ordinary relationship of parent to subsidiary”. The company “has not made a compelling case that exercising jurisdiction over it would be unreasonable,” the judge wrote.
No date has been set for the trial, although the judge said the two parties would have “a few months” to prepare their cases. Ron Reese, Las Vegas Sands spokesman, told the Associated Press news agency that the company is pursuing all options to appeal.
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”Ramp ups [of new Macau casinos] are taking a little bit longer. The market is somewhat volatile at the moment, but we continue to look at all the opportunities and are still very comfortable that things are starting to move ahead”
Chief executive of MGM China Holdings