A Nevada judge has dismissed the defamation suit filed by former Sands China Ltd. CEO Steve Jacobs against Las Vegas Sands CEO Sheldon Adelson. Jacobs, who was fired last July after publicly butting heads with Adelson over Sands China’s expansion plans, had sued LVS for wrongful dismissal and suggested that Sands China had engaged in illegal/unethical shenanigans involving Asian underworld figures at Adelson’s behest.
This last charge prompted Adelson to tell the Wall Street Journal that Jacobs’ remarks were “outright lies and fabrications” and that there was a “substantial list of reasons” why Jacobs was standing in the unemployment line. Elsewhere, Adelson referred to Jacobs’ allegations as “pure threatening, blackmailing and extortion.” Adelson’s outburst prompted Jacobs to amend his lawsuit to include a defamation charge against Adelson, and round, round we go.
In dismissing Jacobs’ case, Clark County District Court Judge Elizabeth Gonzalez cited Nevada Supreme Court case law to determine that Adelson’s comments to the WSJ were “absolutely privileged as it relates to litigation.” Donald Campbell, one of Jacobs’ lawyers, had claimed that Adelson’s remarks were ‘extra judicial’ and that his client was “an executive who has been termed as being ‘fired for cause.’ We’ve cited cases where that’s defamatory.” Campbell has indicated that his client would appeal Gonzalez’ ruling to the Nevada Supreme Court.
It wasn’t all champagne corks popping for Adelson on Thursday, however. Gonzalez declined to immediately dismiss Jacobs’ breach of contract suit against Sands China, in which Jacobs claims he was denied stock options to which he feels entitled. Gonzalez will consider a motion for summary judgment on that suit at a later date.