The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, a federal body, backed on Tuesday an arbitrator’s 2019 decision that Japanese billionaire Kazuo Okada (pictured in a file photo) should pay US$50-million in fees to law firm Bartlit Beck LLP for litigation against casino group Wynn Resorts Ltd, reported Reuters, citing the ruling.
Bartlit Beck had represented Mr Okada in a legal fight against Wynn Resorts regarding the latter’s unilateral redemption at discount, of several billion U.S. dollars in Wynn Resorts stock controlled by interests founded by Mr Okada. The case was settled in 2018. But Mr Okada then refused to pay Bartlett Beck an agreed US$50-million fee, said the report, citing the latest court decision.
The argument over attorney fees first went to a panel of arbitrators in July 2018. Mr Okada had participated in that process for over a year, but stopped prior to an evidentiary hearing, according to the latest ruling.
Subsequently, the arbitration panel awarded Bartlit Beck US$50 million by default. The law firm then petitioned a district court to confirm the award, and it did so.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit was unanimous in its three-judge ruling backing Bartlit Beck.
Mr Okada had argued that the arbitration process that moved forward without him was “unreasonable” and “unfair”.
The businessman had asserted – among other things – that he had been unable to attend arbitration proceedings held in Chicago, Illinois, due to a “medical emergency”.
“A review of the relevant email correspondence…makes plain that, sick or not, Okada was not going to participate in the [arbitration] hearing,” stated the federal appeals court.
Bartlit Beck says Mr Okada owes it more than US$63 million, when accrued interest is added to the original bill, reported Reuters.
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”This new venture [with PH Resorts] is aligned with our strategy to increase our footprint in the Philippines, given our remarkable success with Okada Manila”
President and COO of the operator of Okada Manila