Las Vegas Sands Corp. asked a Nevada judge to set aside a $101.6 million verdict in favor of a Hong Kong businessman who won a trial over claims that he helped the casino operator win its gaming license in Macau.
Sands, in a June 7 filing in state court in Las Vegas, argued that the jury awarded the damages for services rendered to Round Square Co., Richard Suen’s company, rather than to Suen himself. Round Square had been dismissed from the case prior to an earlier trial in 2008 and hadn’t been reinstated on that damages theory, Sands said.
“Because the jury’s verdict purports to grant relief only on a putative claim that was long ago dismissed, and never validly reinstated, the verdict must be set aside as a matter of law,” according to the filing by Sands.
The jury on May 14 awarded $70 million in damages to Suen’s company and Clark County District Judge Rob Bare added $31.6 million in pre-judgment interest on May 28. It was Suen’s second trial win over claims that meetings he helped set up for Sands Chairman Sheldon Adelson with Chinese leaders in Beijing in 2001 were instrumental in Sands’s winning a license to own and operate casinos in Macau, a former Portuguese colony, the following year.
Round Square had been reinstated by the Nevada Supreme Court on appeal after the first trial only with respect to its breach-of-contract claim, not the “quantum meruit” claim for the value of the services provided to Sands in gaining the license, the casino operator said in its filing.
“Suen’s own trial testimony, in which he acknowledged that he asserted a quantum meruit claim on his own behalf, rather than on Round Square’s, confirms that Suen provided services on an individual basis, rather than in his capacity as a Round Square director,” Sands said in the filing.
John O’Malley, a lawyer for Suen and Round Square, declined to comment on Sands’s motion.
The Nevada Supreme Court in 2010 reversed a $58.7 million jury award, including prejudgment interest, in favor of Suen.
Adelson, 79, testified that Suen, a friend of his younger brother Lenny Adelson, contributed nothing to helping the company getting a concession. Sands argued that the Macau government made its decisions independent of the central government in Beijing, which is legally prohibited from intervening in the city’s internal affairs.
Suen, 60, testified that he first alerted Sheldon Adelson in 2000 to the possibility that Macau would end the gambling monopoly casino mogul Stanley Ho had enjoyed in the enclave since 1962. Suen claimed that the goodwill created with Chinese officials through the meetings he helped arrange in Beijing led to the selection of Sands.
Round Square, which consists of Suen, a partner Peggy Li, a secretary and a “handful employees in China,” didn’t employ Suen’s business associates who arranged the Beijing meetings and isn’t entitled to recover damages for their work, according to Sands’s filing.
Las Vegas Sands gets about 58 percent of its annual revenue from its Macau business. Sands China Ltd. (1928), the company’s Hong Kong-listed unit, on May 2 reported first-quarter net income of $452.9 million, a 63 percent increase from a year earlier, as it drew a record number of visitors.
The case is Suen v. Las Vegas Sands Corp. (LVS:US), 04A493744, Nevada District Court, Clark County (Las Vegas).
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