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September 21, 2021

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Fired Las Vegas Sands executive hits Sheldon Adelson with defamation claim

Sheldon Adelson speaks at press conference

Anat Givon / AP

Las Vegas Sands CEO Sheldon Adelson talks during a press conference in Macau in this May 18, 2004 file photo.

Steven Jacobs, Las Vegas Sands Corp.'s fired Macau executive, amended his lawsuit against the company Wednesday to include a defamation count against Las Vegas Sands and personally against Sands CEO and Chairman Sheldon Adelson.

In amending the lawsuit and adding Adelson as a defendant personally, attorneys for Jacobs said he was defamed by a statement Sands and Adelson provided to the Wall Street Journal on Tuesday after a Las Vegas judge rejected Sands' motions that Jacobs' lawsuit be dismissed.

Jacobs claims he was fired last year after refusing to carry out demands by Adelson that Jacobs believed to be illegal. Sands has said Jacobs was fired for working on unauthorized deals and violations of company policy.

"While I have largely stayed silent on the matter to this point, the recycling of his allegations must be addressed," Adelson said in the statement published by the Wall Street Journal. "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. Instead, he has attempted to explain his termination by using outright lies and fabrications which seem to have their origins in delusion."

Wednesday's amended lawsuit by Jacobs charges: "Adelson's comments to the effect that Jacobs was justifiably fired 'for cause' and Jacobs had resorted to `outright lies and fabrications' in seeking legal redress constituted defamation per se."

The amended suit charged Adelson's comments were "false and defamatory" and "maliciously published by Adelson knowing their falsity and/or in reckless disregard of the truth."

The amended complaint charges Adelson's comments "intended to and did in fact harm Jacobs' reputation and good name in his trade, business, profession and customary corporate office" and "were of such a nature that significant economic damages must be presumed."

The new count seeks unspecified general and punitive damages against Adelson, Las Vegas Sands and Sands' subsidiary Sands China Ltd. for the defamation claim, charging Adelson's comments "were made without justification or legal excuse and were otherwise not privileged because they did not function as a necessary or useful step in the litigation process."

Jacobs is represented in the lawsuit by the Las Vegas law firm Campbell & Williams. Donald Campbell, one of his attorneys, is known as an aggressive litigator who as a former federal prosecutor specialized in white collar crime and organized crime

Asked about the new defamation claim, Ron Reese, Las Vegas Sands vice president for public relations, said Thursday: "Mr. Adelson's comments speak for themselves and no further explanation is necessary."

A mandatory and routine "Rule 16" conference is scheduled in the case for April 22. In these conferences, the court tries to reduce the cost of litigation, assist in resolution of disputes and, if they can't be resolved, assists in reducing the costs of discovery and trial.

Given that Sands has filed a criminal defamation complaint against Jacobs in China, that Jacobs is now suing Adelson personally and that Jacobs' lawsuit has prompted investigations of Sands' compliance with a U.S. anti-bribery law, it's questionable if the parties will be in a settling mood when they meet.

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