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Pandemic Intensifies Litigation Fight for Adelson, Las Vegas Sun

April 30, 2020, 7:29 PM

Both sides of an already-acrimonious antitrust dispute between GOP megadonor Sheldon Adelson and a rival newspaper owner have dropped any pretense of civility as they fight in Las Vegas federal court over whether to expedite the case despite the coronavirus pandemic.

The Las Vegas Sun filed a motion in early April to speed up its lawsuit accusing Adelson and his Las Vegas Review-Journal of “weaponizing” a decades-old joint operating agreement in a bid to “effectively kill the Sun,” which has structured operations around it. The suit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Nevada.

The Sun called Adelson a liar in court papers filed Wednesday, blasting the Review Journal’s opposition brief as a “shrill” effort “to change the conversation and to rewrite history.”

“The RJ asserts fiction as fact and wields volumes of voluble, unsworn, ‘alternative’ facts as weapons,” the Sun’s brief says. “The RJ’s poison pen strategy is so grounded in falsehood and hollow lawyer arguments that the RJ could not—and glaringly did not—provide an affidavit from RJ owner Sheldon Adelson.”

The “absence of substantiation” for the Review-Journal’s “unsworn accusations” is “conspicuous,” the Sun claims.

Its filing came in response to the Review-Journal’s April 22 brief opposing the expedite motion, in which it categorized the Sun and its owner, Brian Greenspun, as “nuisance” litigants seeking to extort a settlement out of Adelson, a billion casino mogul.

The Review-Journal also called the motion “startlingly out of touch” in light of the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Virtually the entire country is sheltered in their homes,” its brief says. “Nobody knows when it will be safe for the courts to return to business as usual, or how large the backlog will be when that day comes.”

The clash took place several weeks after an April 3 joint filing in which the two sides sparred over whether the pandemic justified pausing the case.

“Since the parties appeared in court two months ago, the world has dramatically changed,” Adelson and his paper said at the time. “The Sun’s refusal to agree to any temporary stay during this expanding pandemic is selfish, unreasonable, and unjustified.”

The Sun countered that Adelson was using “gamesmanship” to drag the case out until he wins by default, when his main local competitor finally buckles.

Adelson and his paper are represented by Jenner & Block LLP. The Sun is represented by Alioto Law Firm and Pisanelli Bice PLLC.

The case is Las Vegas Sun, Inc. v. Adelson, D. Nev., No. 19-cv-1667, reply in support of motion to expedite filed 4/29/20.

To contact the reporter on this story: Mike Leonard in Washington at mleonard@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Rob Tricchinelli at rtricchinelli@bloomberglaw.com