CARSON CITY – The Nevada Supreme Court in a 4-3 ruling has reversed the dismissal of a defamation lawsuit brought against Las Vegas Sands Corp. Chairman Sheldon Adelson by a former top executive.
The defamation claim was added to a breach of employment lawsuit brought by Steve Jacobs, who served as head of the company’s Macau operations until he was let go in 2010.
Jacobs and his attorney said in the appeal that after a Clark County District Court denied motions to dismiss his employment lawsuit in 2011, Adelson defamed him in comments to the press by calling him a “delusional liar who was fired from his job ‘for cause.’ ”
Jacobs then added the defamation claim.
Adelson claimed that Nevada’s absolute privilege for judicial communications protected his communications with the media, and Clark County District Judge Elizabeth Gonzalez agreed, dismissing the defamation portion of the lawsuit. Jacobs then appealed to the Supreme Court, which heard the case in October of 2013.
But the Supreme Court, in the split ruling Friday, said communications made to the media in an extrajudicial setting are not absolutely privileged, at least when the media holds no more significant interest in the litigation than the general public. The case was sent back to District Court for further proceedings.
Justices James Hardesty, Michael Douglas, Nancy Saitta and Judge Michael Montero, serving in place of Justice Kristina Pickering, were the majority.