Nevada’s highest court has ordered a new trial regarding a damages claim by a Hong Kong businessman who argues he helped Las Vegas Sands Corp get a Macau gaming licence.
In a decision on Friday, the Nevada Supreme Court found “insufficient evidence” to support a 2013 jury verdict in a lower court that found in favour of Richard Suen and Round Square Co Ltd, a company he partially owned. The state’s top court called for a review of the verdict, but did not overturn an order from the lower court made in 2013 that Las Vegas Sands must pay damages, reported the Associated Press.
In a six-week trial that ended in mid-May 2013, a jury in Clark County District Court, Nevada, awarded Mr Suen US$70 million for work he said he did more than a decade earlier to help Las Vegas Sands secure its gaming licence in Macau.
Mr Suen had sued Las Vegas Sands in 2004, claiming he had arranged meetings in Beijing between the company chairman and chief executive Sheldon Adelson and Chinese officials that helped pave the way for the firm to operate casinos in Macau.
With court fees and interest accruing since the case was filed in 2004, the award – if upheld – would have exceeded more than US$100 million, according to media reports.
The 2013 judgement was the second time that a Nevada jury had awarded Mr Suen damages. In 2010, the state supreme court had voided an order for Las Vegas Sands to pay US$43.8 million in damages, citing errors by the trial judge.
In Friday’s decision, Nevada’s highest state court said: “We hold that there was insufficient evidence to support the jury’s award of damages, and thus, a new trial on the issue of damages is warranted.”
In a statement on Monday quoted by the Associated Press, Las Vegas Sands said “that whatever service Mr Suen claims to have provided was only of nominal value and was wholly unrelated to the company earning its operating rights in Macau”.
“The Nevada Supreme Court affirmed the company’s position that Mr Suen failed to provide substantial proof of any meaningful damages,” the casino firm added.
Mr Suen’s primary attorney, John O’Malley, declined to comment on the latest ruling, reported to the Associated Press.
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Ambrose So Shu Fai
Vice-chairman and chief executive at Macau casino operator SJM Holdings