Las Vegas Sun

October 1, 2023

Court overturns $43.8 million judgment against Las Vegas Sands


Left: Plaintiff Richard Suen appears in District Court Thursday, April 17, 2008. Right: Las Vegas Sands Corp. Chairman Sheldon Adelson gives testimony during the a trial resulting from a lawsuit by Suen. (Photos by Leila Navidi/Las Vegas Sun)

CARSON CITY – The Nevada Supreme Court has overturned a $43.8 million judgment against Las Vegas Sands and its officers in a dispute over efforts to obtain a casino license in Macau.

The court ruled that District Judge Michelle Leavitt was wrong in refusing to give a jury instruction and in admitting hearsay statements during the 29-day trial.

The suit had been brought by Richard Suen and his company against Sands and its officers, Sheldon Adelson and William Weidner, saying it was his work that got Sands a license in Macau.

Suen set up meetings among Adelson, Weidner and officials of the People’s Republic of China, the overseer of Macau. Weidner offered to pay a success fee to Suen and his Round Square Company Limited if Sands obtained a Macau gaming license.

But Suen never got a payment, and a jury in Las Vegas awarded Suen and his group $43.8 million.

Instead of a payment, Adelson offered Suen a deal where he would work as a purchasing agent for Sands and said it was worth $100 million. But Suen refused the offer when Adelson refused to guarantee a minimum payment of $25 million. The offer also said Suen could be fired at any time, leaving him with no compensation.

The Supreme Court said Leavitt committed an error in granting a summary judgment barring Suen from filing a breach of contract suit.

In its decision, the court said Judge Leavitt erred in admitting hearsay evidence without giving a limited instruction to the jury. The statement was made by Weidner after giving a deposition. He made an out-of-court statement involving how Suen may have helped Sands obtain a gaming license.

The court said multiple-hearsay statements may not be admitted into evidence “simply because the adverse party heard a rumor on an issue.”

The court also said Leavitt failed to give the jury an instruction sought by Sands that the People’s Republic of China had obeyed the law in the transaction.

Suen tried to show that the People’s Republic of China violated the basic law of not interfering in the granting of a casino license.

The court also reinstated Suen’s claim that Sands breached its contract in the negotiations. The case now returns to district court for further proceedings.

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