|By Steve Green, Las Vegas
SunMcClatchy-Tribune Regional News
Jan. 30, 2012--Casino resort company Wynn Resorts Ltd. has hired influential attorney Robert Shapiro and his high-powered Los Angeles law firm to fight a lawsuit filed by disgruntled director Kazuo Okada.
Okada is chairman of Tokyo-based pachinko gambling device maker Universal Entertainment Corp., Wynn's largest shareholder.
He sued Las Vegas-based Wynn Resorts in Clark County District Court on Jan. 11 in a dispute over use of funds, including sister company Wynn Macau's pledge of a gift of $135 million to the University of Macau.
Okada demands in his lawsuit that Wynn open its books related to the University of Macau pledge and to show how $120 million invested in 2002 by another Okada company, Aruze USA, has been spent.
He's also seeking information about a Macau spending account, books and records covering Wynn Resorts and its predecessor entities for 2000-2002, and details on a stockholders' agreement between Steve Wynn, Elaine Wynn and Aruze.
In answering the lawsuit for the first time last week, Wynn Resorts revealed it was represented by Shapiro, known as an attorney for celebrities and stars over the years including O.J. Simpson, Lindsay Lohan, Christian Brando and most recently Eva Longoria, including in the bankruptcy of Longoria's Las Vegas Beso restaurant.
Shapiro is also the head of the white collar criminal defense group at the law firm Glaser Weil Fink Jacobs Howard Avchen & Shapiro LLP. On top of that, he's the cofounder and TV pitchman for LegalZoom.com.
Shapiro's Los Angeles law firm, which has a Las Vegas office, has grown in recognition in Las Vegas in recent years.
It represents billionaire Sheldon Adelson's Chinese company, Sands China Ltd., in a suit filed by former Sands China CEO Steven Jacobs claiming he was denied stock options and benefits after he was fired.
Glaser Weil Fink Jacobs Howard Avchen & Shapiro LLP also represents billionaire Kirk Kerkorian and has represented his gaming company, MGM Resorts International.
Wynn Resorts CEO Steve Wynn is known for aggressively litigating lawsuits when his company is sued rather than settling. That way, local attorneys say, over the years he's deterred nuisance lawsuits and caused those with legitimate legal disputes to think twice before suing.
His hiring of Glaser Weil Fink Jacobs Howard Avchen & Shapiro to fight Okada's lawsuit appears to be in line with his policy of vigorously contesting lawsuits. A second firm with a Las Vegas office, Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck LLP, also represents Wynn Resorts in the suit.
Okada, in the meantime, is represented by Lionel Sawyer & Collins in Las Vegas and Alston & Bird LLP of Menlo Park, Calif.
Wynn's attorneys complained in last week's court response in the Okada case that rather than raise concerns with Wynn Resorts and Wynn Macau Ltd. about how funds were being spent, "Okada opted instead to publicly air his purported grievances through his (lawsuit) petition, utilizing innuendo, hyperbole, half-truths and sweeping generalizations."
The Shapiro-led legal team said Okada had received countless Wynn documents over the past 10 years, that the $135 million pledge to the University of Macau had been approved by an 11-1 vote of the Wynn board and that the board had received information about the pledge and discussed it, with Okada presenting his dissenting view at the time.
The Wynn response said Okada's lawsuit is nothing more than "stockholder inspection requests" by Aruze and Universal Entertainment but that stockholders of Wynn don't have inspection rights because Wynn is current with its Securities and Exchange Commission filings.
The Wynn attorneys said that to get around this problem, Okada had presented his request as a director rather than a shareholder.
"This maneuver should be flatly rejected by the court," the Wynn filing said.
It's unknown when the state court will rule on Okada's record inspection request.
(c)2012 the Las Vegas Sun (Las Vegas, Nev.)
Visit the Las Vegas Sun (Las Vegas, Nev.) at www.lasvegassun.com
Distributed by MCT Information Services NASDAQ:WYNN,