The recent settlement of Steve Jacobs' wrongful termination suit against Sheldon Adelson's Las Vegas Sands Corp. may have closed the courtroom doors on a potentially explosive trial involving claims from blackmail to organized crime alliances. However, it left behind last year's key pre-trial clash between the 81-year-old billionaire and Jacobs' attorney, Pisanelli Bice's James Pisanelli.
Jacobs, former president of Las Vegas Sands' Macau unit, claimed he was fired for challenging illegal activities he says the company undertook, allegedly including blackmailing Macau officials and allying with Chinese organized crime groups.
However, the defense denied Jacobs' claims and argued Nevada state courts had no jurisdiction over the case because the company's Macau unit doesn't operate within the state.
In pre-trial proceedings on the jurisdictional issue, Pisanelli verbally sparred with the casino mogul, who, has a controlling interest in the Sands and is listed among the 25 richest people in the world, according to Forbes.
Armed with a large magnifying glass to read documents, Adelson argued with Pisanelli across eight hours of testimony spread over five days.
In the face of repeated, unscuccessful defense objections, for example, Pisanelli peppered Adelson with questions about an alleged meeting Adelson had with Michael Leven, a member at the time of the Sands' Board of Directors. "Does it refresh your recollection, sir, that while you were telling the investment public Steve Jacobs was being granted 2.5 million shares of stock for his performance, you were secretly plotting to fire him in Las Vegas, at the same time?"
"I could've been with Mr. Leven in Atlanta or Boca Raton," Adelson answered. "You keep throwing that "in Las Vegas" to say that the company in Macau was run by us in Las Vegas."
As Pisanelli returned to questions about meeting "secretly" to discuss Jacobs' firing, Adelson interrupted, "Secretly? I don't do anything secret."
A little over a year after the testimony, the defense agreed to settle Jacobs' claims. The amount was not released, though the Wall Street Journal reported the settlement exceeded $75 million.
Adelson is no stranger to CVN courtroom cameras. In 2013, he testified at trial of Richard Suen's claim the Las Vegas Sands didn't pay him for helping to gain casino building approval in Macau. Jurors awarded $70 million in that trial, covered by CVN. However, the Nevada Supreme Court this spring ordered a new trial on damages alone in that case.
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