Billionaire battles lawyer over deposition location

A dispute over where casino owner Sheldon Adelson should give a legal deposition has provided a quirky look at the billionaire behind the scenes.

Earlier this week, Adelson lawyers filed court papers seeking to avoid taking the deposition at the downtown law offices of attorney Don Campbell for what they called security reasons. Campbell is suing Adelson in federal court to recover more than $100,000 in overtime on behalf of former Adelson driver Kwame Luangisa.

The Adelson lawyers argued that Campbell’s office, a converted house, has too many entrances and windows and is not secure enough for one of the richest men in the world. Adelson wants the deposition taken either at his corporate office on the Strip or at the federal courthouse.

But Campbell is insisting the deposition be taken at his office, and the impasse has forced U.S. Magistrate Carl Hoffman to hold a hearing today to resolve it.

In court papers Wednesday, an attorney in Campbell’s office called Adelson’s effort a “total farce.”

Philip Erwin also rebutted claims made by an unnamed Las Vegas Sands Corp. spokesman in the Las Vegas Sun this week that Campbell had lost his temper at a previous Adelson deposition and tried to throw books at the casino owner.

“This account is, in a word, a lie,” Erwin wrote.

He went on to describe Adelson’s “outrageous behavior” at that deposition, which took place at Adelson’s office.

“Throughout the deposition, Mr. Adelson constantly interrupted Mr. Campbell in his questioning,” Erwin said.

Adelson, he added, “proposed and answered his own off-topic questions, took personal phone calls, directed his staff to bring him refreshments, including a large plate of assorted sweets, and then vacated the deposition for hours at a time.”

Erwin said Adelson directed a staff member to put a 30-pound stack of books on the table right in front of Campbell as Campbell was questioning Adelson.

Campbell put the books on the floor, prompting Adelson to order Campbell to pick up the books and place them on a table in the back of the room, Erwin said. When Campbell refused, Adelson summoned an armed guard.

Erwin said a DVD of the incident showed that “Campbell never lost his temper and never assaulted Mr. Adelson in any way.”

“In light of Adelson’s conduct and the rank mendacity of his unnamed spokesman who publicly smeared Campbell’s professional reputation, it would be highly inappropriate to force plaintiff and his counsel to conduct the deposition at Adelson’s corporate office,” Erwin said.

Campbell also is suing Adelson to collect hundreds of thousands of dollars in overtime sought by members of Adelson’s elite Executive Protection Team.

In that case, he persuaded a federal judge last month to block Adelson’s effort to transfer several of the highly trained security agents to routine uniformed duties while the case was being litigated.

Contact Jeff German at jgerman@reviewjournal.com or 702-380-8135.

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