Former Sands China executive Steven Jacobs claims Las Vegas Sands Corp. is trying to “derail” his rights “through improper and unlawful maneuvering,” which includes the company’s most recent attempt to remove the judge assigned to his wrongful termination case.
Jacobs filed an emergency motion Wednesday that seeks to prevent Sands lawyers from further delaying the 5-year-old case.
“The defendants in this action have repeatedly sought to delay this case and have made clear they will do anything, no matter how lacking in legal support, to try and sabotage Jacobs’ rights to trial,” attorney Todd Bice wrote in a declaration supporting the motion.
Bice made the comments in response to last week’s attempt by Las Vegas Sands to disqualify District Judge Elizabeth Gonzalez, who has presided over the case since shortly after its inception. Chief District Judge David Barker, who has not yet ruled on the motion for disqualification, has indicated he will rule on Jacobs’ new motion by Feb. 4.
Meanwhile, Gonzalez has suspended all hearings in the case, which is set for trial June 27.
When asked for comment, Las Vegas Sands Corp. spokesman Ron Reese pointed to an opposition filing submitted Friday by the company’s lawyers, who argue that Jacobs’ motion lacks merit. The document also notes that the Nevada Supreme Court has “repeatedly condemned the practice” of filing a motion to strike another motion.
Jacobs, former president and CEO of Sands China Ltd., filed the lawsuit shortly after he was fired in 2010. He ran the Sands China operation for about nine months. Defendants include Las Vegas Sands; Sheldon Adelson, the company’s chairman and CEO; and Sands China. Jacobs alleges he was terminated “for blowing the whistle on improprieties and placing the interests of shareholders above those of Adelson.”
In his declaration, Bice noted that the state’s high court “has denied on three occasions the defendants’ request for reassignment of this case.”
“The defendants are engaged in forum shopping because of their repeated misconduct in these proceedings,” he wrote.
In its motion last week, Las Vegas Sands cited “recent intensified media coverage of the lawsuit” as one of the “new grounds” for requesting the judge’s disqualification.
“After years of apparent silence, the court has responded to that media coverage by contributing to the coverage,” according to the motion. “That participation raises doubts about the court’s impartiality and objectivity.”
Adelson’s family purchased the Review-Journal on Dec. 10, shortly after three RJ reporters were ordered by GateHouse Media, the newspaper’s former owner, to monitor Gonzalez and two other judges. The order came as GateHouse was negotiating the sale of the newspaper and an ongoing management contract with the Adelson family’s new corporation, News + Media Capital Group LLC. Shortly after the monitoring effort a newspaper in Connecticut operated by former News + Media manager Michael Schroeder published an article that was critical of Gonzalez.
Gonzalez has denied having “a bias toward or prejudice against” Las Vegas Sands. She acknowledged responding to two media requests for comment about the RJ’s courtroom monitoring but said she “did not discuss a particular litigant or case.
— Contact reporter Carri Geer Thevenot at email@example.com or 702-384-8710. Find her on Twitter: @CarriGeer.