District Judge Elizabeth Gonzalez has ordered hefty sanctions against Las Vegas Sands subsidiary Sands China Ltd. for improperly withholding documents in an ongoing wrongful termination lawsuit.
In an order filed Friday, Gonzalez told the attorneys to surrender the documents, pay $250,000 to various legal charities and cover significant court costs incurred by plaintiff Steven Jacobs, the former president of Sands Macau. She previously ruled that failure to turn over the documents violated Jacobs’ rights.
Jacobs’ lawyer, Todd Bice, said the judge was trying to “level the playing field” by handing down the penalties.
“We’ll see whether or not they want to change their course of conduct,” he said.
In what Bice called one of the more significant sanctions, the judge also restricted Sands China Ltd. from calling any of its own witnesses during a hearing on jurisdiction.
“We are disappointed in the court’s decision and do not believe it is supported by the evidence,” Ron Reese, a spokesman for Las Vegas Sands Corp., wrote in an email in response to the 41-page ruling. “Sands China intends to seek review from a higher court.”
Gonzalez had previously ruled that Sands China violated her September 2012 order in the case by redacting the documents. The subsidiary’s “ongoing noncompliance is incompatible with and undermines the search for truth,” Gonzalez wrote Friday, calling the company’s lack of transparency “highly problematic.”
Jacobs sued Las Vegas Sands Corp. and Sands China in 2010 for breach of contract related to his termination and had asked the defendants to turn over about 100,000 emails and other documents. He sought the emails and documents to show that decisions made in Las Vegas controlled Sands China on many subjects. Included in the list was the allegation that Las Vegas Sands Chairman and CEO Sheldon Adelson had personally approved a “prostitution strategy” for Macau, which Adelson and the company deny.