In an unusual case of déjà vu, Macau cropped up as an issue in major litigation involving Strip companies for the second time in two weeks.
Perini Building Co. had scheduled the deposition of MGM Resorts International Chairman and CEO Jim Murren for Aug. 14-17 and 20 in Las Vegas, as part of a lawsuit involving unpaid construction bills and responsibility for defects at CityCenter. However, as spelled out at a Wednesday hearing in Clark County District Court, Murren canceled the appearance through an attorney to attend a board meeting of affiliate MGM China Holdings in Macau.
Murren appeared on a panel at the Women's Leadership Conference at the MGM Grand on Aug. 15, an engagement that had been listed on the advance agenda for the women's conference.
"Perhaps gaming corporations don't have to abide by the rules of civil procedure," Perini attorney George Ogilvie III said.
Perini, a unit of Tutor Perini Corp., was the general contractor at CityCenter.
The line was a thinly veiled reference to the $25,000 fine and other penalties imposed last week on Las Vegas Sands Corp. and Sands China Ltd. for misleading Clark County District Judge Elizabeth Gonzalez about why they did not turn over electronic evidence in a case brought a by a former top executive. For more than a year, Las Vegas Sands attorneys argued in court that they were hamstrung by Macau's Personal Data Protection Act, even though the data was in Las Vegas the entire time.
"I was surprised as anyone else was when I saw a photo (in the Las Vegas Review-Journal) of (Murren) attending the conference," said Steve Morris, lead attorney for CityCenter, which is half-owned by MGM Resorts. "No one told me the trip to Asia was canceled."
This was one of several attempts to get Murren to sit for out-of-court testimony that have come up empty, according to Perini.
"I don't think that his obligation to sit for a deposition ... is being taken seriously," Ogilvie said.
In a statement, MGM Resorts spokesman Gordon Abscher said, "Mr. Murren has a very busy schedule, but he certainly will make himself available (for deposition)."
Gonzalez set a hearing for Friday to nail down a firm date.
"Either he shows up or bad things happen," she said.
According to Morris, Murren called off the Asia trip and stayed in the country as the Maryland Legislature convened a special session in mid-August to discuss expanding casino gambling, strongly backed by MGM Resorts. This resulted in a measure being placed on the November ballot.
Instead, Murren participated in the Macau board meeting by teleconference from Las Vegas, as he has done in the past.
Contact reporter Tim O'Reiley at email@example.com or 702-387-5290.