LAS VEGAS (AP) — Las Vegas Sands Corp. asked a Nevada judge Tuesday to throw out a second jury verdict awarding a former consultant a $70 million settlement in a breach-of-contract case.
Attorneys for the largest U.S. casino company presented 12 reasons a district judge should grant a second retrial.
Hong Kong businessman Richard Suen says he helped Sands win a gambling license in the Chinese enclave of Macau. He first sued the company, which is owned by billionaire GOP super donor Sheldon Adelson, in 2004.
Suen said he was hired by Las Vegas Sands to curry favor with the Chinese government in the early 2000s and was successful. Sands holds that it would have won a gambling license in Macau, the only place in China where casino gambling is legal, without Suen’s help.
A jury found for Suen in 2008, awarding him $58.6 million, but Sands successfully petitioned for a retrial, arguing that the jury had been presented with inadmissible hearsay evidence.
Suen won a second jury trial in June. The second trial attracted more attention than the first because Sands has become the largest U.S. casino company in the intervening years, thanks to its success in Macau, and Adelson has gained fame as a major contributor to conservative causes.
Suen was also able to ask for more money. He says he and his company were promised $5 million and 2 percent of net casino profits, and Sands’ profits have exploded since 2008.
Las Vegas Sands now operates four resorts in Macau’s Cotai Strip area, and makes about 60 percent of its profits in the former Portuguese colony, an hour from Hong Kong by ferry. Sands also operates the Venetian and the Palazzo casinos on the Las Vegas Strip.
Sands again immediately appealed.
Judge Rob Bare allowed both sides to exceed normal page limits for their supporting paperwork, and both came to court Tuesday hauling oversized three-ring binders.
“There was a heck of a lot of paperwork filed for today’s hearing,” Bare noted as the hearing got underway.
Among other arguments, Sands’ attorneys hold that the jury was again allowed to consider hearsay evidence, including testimony from Sheldon Adelson’s brother Lenny, and that Suen failed to demonstrate that he helped Las Vegas Sands.
The company’s attorneys are also arguing that the trial should be scrapped because a juror was revealed to hold a secret prejudice against Adelson.
The man in question, juror number 12, taunted a fellow juror who was reluctant to find against Sands, and said she must be afraid Adelson would threaten her life if she angered him. The woman took offense and asked to sit separately from the rest of the jury for the remainder of deliberations.
“As there was no evidentiary basis for Juror’s No. 12′s inflammatory comment, it can only be explained by a serious bias against LVS (and its CEO),” Sands’ lawyers wrote.
Sands first raised this issue in court immediately after the verdict was delivered. At the time, Bare said the company should have raised the issue before it lost the case.
Suen, who is following the appeal from Hong Kong, has said he is prepared to keep fighting for what he is owed, even if it takes years.
“I believe that justice will be served eventually,” he said in June. “I’ve always kept my faith with the Las Vegas community, and I’ve been proven right. Twice.”
Hannah Dreier can be reached at http://twitter.com/hannahdreier.