LAS VEGAS (AP) - A Nevada judge refused a second request for a
mistrial by lawyers for a Hong Kong businessman who claims Las
Vegas Sands owes him millions of dollars for helping the company
obtain a casino license in the Chinese enclave of Macau.
Lawyer James Pisanelli, representing plaintiff Richard Suen, objected Thursday that the jury was tainted by Sands president and chief executive William Weidner's testimony that Suen's civil lawsuit was costing the company millions of dollars in legal fees.
"We've probably spent $8 million to $10 million to defend ourselves," Weidner said in response to a question from Sands lawyer Rusty Hardin.
Even before Suen's lawyers could object, Clark County District
Court Judge Michelle Leavitt ordered jurors to disregard the
With the jury out of the courtroom, Pisanelli demanded a mistrial. He said jurors should not have been told what Las Vegas Sands might spend in legal costs, and recalled his April 18 request for a mistrial after Hardin provided information during opening statements that was not supposed to be brought into evidence.
"This jury has been prejudiced by their missteps," Pisanelli said. "How many times does this have to happen?"
Hardin said Weidner, president of Las Vegas Sands since 1995, was not an attorney and did not know he couldn't divulge legal costs during testimony.
"It was not planned. It was a mistake," Hardin said.
Leavitt, who on April 18 instructed jurors not to consider opening statements as evidence, recessed the trial Thursday for 20 minutes for legal research before recalling jurors and telling them a second time to disregard Weidner's comment.
Weidner is only the second witness in the case. He is due to return to the witness stand when trial resumes Monday. Adelson testified last week.
Suen sued Las Vegas Sands in 2004, saying that he and his company were promised a $5 million "success fee" and 2 percent of net casino profits to help Las Vegas Sands open its first casino in Macau. Sands maintains Suen was never hired and is owed nothing.
Weidner testified that Suen tried to get the company to invest in non-casino projects to curry favor with the Chinese government, including a convention center and high-tech park in Beijing.
Suen, a friend and business partner of Adelson's brother, Leonard Adelson, claims his help was key to helping Sands get the gambling license it has used it to build the Sands Macao and Venetian Macao resorts and develop plans for at least 10 other hotel-casinos on the region's Cotai Strip.
Macau leader Edmund Ho said Tuesday a hold was being placed on
issuing any new gambling licenses for the booming casino center.
Information from: Las Vegas Review-Journal, http://www.lvrj.com
(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)