The Nevada Supreme Court has overturned the $70 million verdict awarded in 2013 to Hong Kong businessman Richard Suen in his long-running lawsuit against Las Vegas Sands Corp.
The order affirms the judgment in favor of Suen while reversing the jury’s decision on damages.
“We hold that there was insufficient evidence to support the jury’s award of damages, and thus, a new trial on the issue of damages is warranted,” the high court ordered Friday.
A Clark County District Court jury awarded Suen $70 million for his work more than a decade ago in helping Las Vegas Sands enter the fledgling Macau casino market. The Chinese enclave is now the world’s top gambling destination.
Las Vegas Sands released the following statement Monday:
“The company has consistently maintained that whatever service Mr. Suen claims to have provided was only of nominal value and was wholly unrelated to the company earning its operating rights in Macao. The Nevada Supreme Court affirmed the company’s position that Mr. Suen failed to provide substantial proof of any meaningful damages.”
Clark County juries twice found in favor of Suen, whose attorneys have argued that his relationships with Chinese government and business officials were key to Las Vegas Sands’ licensing efforts. Attorney Todd Bice, who represents Suen, said he was tied up on a conference call Monday morning and could not immediately discuss the decision. Later attempts to reach him were not successful.
In 2008, after a 29-day trial overseen by District Judge Michelle Leavitt, Suen was awarded $43.8 million. The state Supreme Court vacated the first verdict in 2010 because of the amount of hearsay evidence Suen’s attorneys put into the record.
At the conclusion of a 33-day retrial of the same case in 2013 in front of District Judge Rob Bare, another jury awarded Suen $70 million. With court fees and interest accruing since the case was filed in October 2004, the judgment, if upheld, would have exceeded $115 million.
According to the Supreme Court order, the record showed “substantial evidence” to support the finding that Suen’s now-dormant company, Round Square Company Ltd., “conferred a benefit onto” Las Vegas Sands.
“However, we conclude a new trial is warranted as to damages, as substantial evidence does not support the jury’s determination that the reasonable value of the services rendered amounted to $70 million,” the order states.
Six of the seven Supreme Court justices heard arguments on the matter in late January. Justice Kristina Pickering sat out because her husband, attorney Steve Morris, is part of the Las Vegas Sands legal team.
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