The long-running legal battle between Wynn Resorts Limited and Japanese businessman Kazuo Okada took yet another turn this week after the American casino giant reportedly lost its attempt to avoid a jury trial in the matter.
According to a report from the Bloomberg news service, the 75-year-old Okada filed a lawsuit in 2012 alleging that Wynn Resorts Limited had illegally redeemed his 20% stake in the casino operator after he began questioning the management style of the firm’s billionaire Chief Executive Officer, 75-year-old Steve Wynn.
However, Wynn Resorts Limited, which operates numerous casinos in the United States and Macau including the Wynn Las Vegas and the Wynn Macau, reportedly explained that its board only took the controversial decision to redeem the shares after allegations emerged that Okada may have illegally bribed gaming officials in the Philippines in order to build his giant Okada Manila integrated casino resort.
Bloomberg reported that Wynn Resorts Limited had sought to avoid a jury trial over the whole matter by citing a July 27 ruling from the Nevada Supreme Court that had denied Okada and co-plaintiff Universal Entertainment Corporation from accessing its board’s communications with a range of legal advisers. The Las Vegas-based firm purportedly claimed that this decision had ‘beheaded’ the Japanese billionaire’s assertion that it had illegally redeemed his shares. It subsequently quoted the western state’s ‘business judgment’ rule in contending that the court could not question its moves so long as they had been made following the proper procedures.
But, Judge Elizabeth Gonzalez from the United States District Court for the District of Nevada disagreed and reportedly stated that the ‘business judgment’ regulation could not be utilized to protect an entire company but only to shield individual members of a board, with the exception of Wynn himself, from personal liability.
Bloomberg reported that Gonzalez’ ruling represented the first time any of the merits of the nearly six-year-old struggle between Wynn, his former wife Elaine and Okada had been addressed with the whole matter now scheduled to go to trial in April.