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Former Adelson casino exec takes dismissal case to U.S. court

Updated Tuesday, Feb. 9, 2016 | 1:32 p.m.

A former executive in billionaire casino magnate Sheldon Adelson's empire is asking a federal court in Nevada to rule on a continuing legal fight over his 2010 dismissal as head of operations in the Chinese gambling enclave of Macau.

A lawsuit filed Jan. 29 in U.S. District Court in Las Vegas seeks a jury trial and unspecified damages on the question of whether former Sands China Ltd. CEO Steven Jacobs was hired in 2009 as an employee of Las Vegas Sands Corp. or was responsible to a corporate subsidiary, Venetian Macau Ltd.

Determining who Jacobs reported to is fundamental for Jacobs' contention that he was fired by Adelson and Las Vegas Sands "in an attempt to cover up a host of improper activities which Jacobs has outlined in other litigation and to government regulators," according to the federal court filing.

The question is also central to a fight over whether Jacobs' wrongful termination claim can be heard in Nevada.

Las Vegas Sands spokesman Ron Reese said Tuesday the same question was raised before, and dismissed, in a Nevada state court lawsuit the two sides have been fighting since 2010.

The case has also been appealed several times to the Nevada Supreme Court. It has spawned several related cases, including a defamation claim.

Reese characterized Jacobs' legal move as "procedural sleight of hand," and he said Venetian Macau Ltd. will address it in federal court.

The response echoed a complaint last year by Jacobs' attorneys, led by James Pisanelli and Todd Bice, that efforts by company lawyers in state court to show a clear divide between the Las Vegas Sands and Sands China were "sleight of hand."

Jacobs' lawyers accuse Las Vegas Sands of trying to shift responsibility in the case to Venetian Macau Ltd. to shield Adelson and Las Vegas Sands from liability.

Bice and Pisanelli didn't immediately respond Tuesday to messages.

Sands Las Vegas is appealing Clark County District Court Judge Elizabeth Gonzalez's ruling last year that because decisions about Jacobs' employment were made in Las Vegas, state courts have jurisdiction.

Adelson, 82, insisted during four sometimes contentious days of testimony last year that he had no day-to-day role overseeing the company's Macau operations.

Sands China is a subsidiary of Las Vegas Sands Corp. Adelson is CEO of both. All are being sued by Jacobs.

Adelson also is a prominent donor to Republican Party campaigns, and Adelson family members bought the Las Vegas Review-Journal newspaper in December.

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