|By Steve Green, Las Vegas
SunMcClatchy-Tribune Regional News
June 15, 2012--A United States judge on Thursday rejected a request that he block a Chinese company from suing Las Vegas Sands Corp. in China.
Las Vegas Sands, the hotel-casino giant, in April asked the federal court in Las Vegas to prevent Asian American Entertainment Corp. of Macau from prosecuting a newly filed lawsuit against Sands in the Judiciary Council of Macau, a court in the Chinese gambling territory.
The Macau lawsuit covers issues that were first litigated in the U.S. court in 2007 before Asian American Entertainment gave up on the U.S. suit and it was dismissed.
These issues cover claims that Las Vegas Sands, headed by billionaire Sheldon Adelson, improperly and secretly dropped Asian American Entertainment from participating in Sands' bid for a lucrative gaming license in Macau in 2002.
In asking the U.S. court to block the new lawsuit in Macau, Las Vegas Sands attorneys said the bulk of Asian American's claims are barred by the statute of limitations and that Asian American abandoned the rest of its claims when it gave up on the U.S. lawsuit in 2010.
U.S. District Judge James Mahan in Las Vegas, in denying Las Vegas Sands' motions for injunctions blocking the Macau lawsuit Thursday, noted in his order that "federal courts are generally reluctant to inject themselves in the proceedings of the courts of other sovereign nations."
Stopping a suit in another nation is a power U.S. courts exercise "with extreme caution" and only sparingly, he wrote.
For instance, he wrote, U.S. courts may stop a foreign proceeding that is running parallel with a U.S. lawsuit to avoid simultaneous litigation.
Mahan also noted that he dismissed the U.S. suit in 2010 not on the merits, but because Asian American had failed to timely prosecute it.
"The court never reached the underlying substance of plaintiff's complaint," Mahan wrote in Thursday's order.
"The suit to be enjoined here was instituted two years after this court entered its order dismissing the case. Thus the suit is not parallel and simultaneous, but a subsequent proceeding involving the same parties and claims," Mahan wrote.
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