A Las Vegas judge has dismissed the defamation suit against casino operator Las Vegas Sands Corp's chairman Sheldon Adelson that was brought by the former head of the company's Macau unit.
But Sands China also lost a battle after the court declined to dismiss it as a party to the continuing wrongful termination suit brought against both Las Vegas Sands and Sands China by the Hong Kong-listed firm's former chief executive, Steven Jacobs, the Las Vegas Sun reported yesterday.
A district court judge in Clark County, which includes Las Vegas, dismissed Jacobs' defamation claim on Thursday, according to the Sun report. Lawyers for Jacobs had filed the defamation suit in response to comments made by Adelson that were sent to the Wall Street Journal by a Las Vegas Sands spokesman in March.
'We have a substantial list of reasons why Steve Jacobs was fired for cause and interestingly he has not refuted a single one of them,' Adelson was quoted by the Journal as saying.
'Instead, he has attempted to explain his termination by using outright lies and fabrications which seem to have their origins in delusion,' he said.
Judge Elizabeth Gonzalez ruled Adelson's comments were privileged in that they pertained to continuing litigation, and therefore did not constitute defamation. However, she also declined to dismiss the wrongful termination suit, which is scheduled to go to trial in the middle of next year.
Jacobs was fired in July last year and sued Las Vegas Sands in Las Vegas in October seeking severance pay and stock options worth more than US$10 million. His initial complaint alleged that he was fired 'without cause' after resisting Adelson's 'repeated and outrageous demands' that he 'use improper 'leverage' against senior government officials of Macau' in order to win favourable treatment of Sands' development plans.
Las Vegas Sands disclosed in February it was being investigated by the US Department of Justice and the Securities and Exchange Commission over the firm's compliance with US anti-bribery law, saying it believed the probes 'emanated from allegations contained in the lawsuit'.
Sands China later said it was being investigated by Hong Kong's Securities and Futures Commission. Reuters separately reported that the Federal Bureau of Investigation was also investigating the matter.