Las Vegas Sands Renews Attack on Judge in Steve Jacobs Case

Posted on: February 12, 2016, 08:00h. 

Last updated on: February 15, 2016, 08:07h.

Judge Elizabeth Gonzalez LVS Steve Jacobs wrongful dismissal
Judge Elizabeth Gonzalez, who LVS believes is guilty of “one-sided, erratic” rulings in the Steve Jacobs wrongful dismissal court case. (Image: reviewjournal.com)

Las Vegas Sands Corp. (LVS) has renewed its efforts to have a Las Vegas judge disqualified from a high-profile and longstanding wrongful dismissal case.

This is the fourth time that LVS has appealed for the removal of Judge Elizabeth Gonzalez from the case, which was brought against the company, and its owner Sheldon Adelson, by the former CEO of Sands China, Steve Jacobs, five years ago.

LVS lawyers filed a motion this week asserting that Chief District Judge David Barker had prematurely denied their previous request to remove Gonzalez. Las Vegas Sands Corp. accuses Gonzalez of “disparate treatment of the parties, disparate treatment of issues, and outright hostility to the defendants in this case.”

Furthermore, claimed the filing, the judge has a “long history of one-sided, erroneous and erratic rulings.”

Barker ruled on January 29th that there was no evidence of bias from Gonzalez.

“Meritless” Accusations

Meanwhile, Jacobs’ lawyer, Todd Brice, argues that LVS is deliberately trying to derail the case through “improper and illegal maneuvering,” effectively “sabotaging” his client’s right to trial.

“It’s another sandbag to try and stall the trial of this case,” said Brice this week of the “meritless” filing. “The defendants are afraid of the evidence that will come out at trial and should just admit that fact to everyone.”

Jacobs sued LVS shortly after he was fired in 2010 after 11 months heading up the gaming company’s Macau operations. Adelson has said Jacobs was sacked for “incompetence,” but Jacobs claims he was dismissed for trying to blow the whistle on company improprieties in Macau.

These include, according to Jacobs, alleged business deals with triad figures and payoffs to Chinese officials.

Media Storm

The case has taken on a new twist since Adelson’s purchase of Nevada’s premier newspaper, the Las Vegas Review-Journal (LVRJ). Just before the takeover was announced, and several weeks before Adelson was revealed as the newspaper’s new owner by the journalistic endeavors of its own staff, reporters were given the seemingly odd task of monitoring three Nevada judges, one of whom was Gonzalez.

The reporters’ research appeared to amount to nothing, remaining unpublished, until a “plagiarized, partially fabricated” article criticizing Gonzalez appeared in a small Connecticut newspaper owned by Michael Schroeder, who had been appointed a manager of the Review-Journal by the Adelson family.

The adjectives in speech marks in the paragraph above are the LVRJ’s own, from this week, which suggests that the newspaper still has a degree of editorial autonomy when reporting on the affairs of its new owner.

LVS has seized on the furor surrounding these events to claim that Judge Gonzalez’ impartiality has been compromised by media attention, a suggestion she dismisses.