LAS VEGAS SANDS CORP., A NEVADA CORPORATION; AND SANDS CHINA LTD., A CAYMAN ISLANDS CORPORATION, Petitioners,
THE EIGHTH JUDICIAL DISTRICT COURT OF THE STATE OF NEVADA, IN AND FOR THE COUNTY OF CLARK; AND THE HONORABLE ELIZABETH GOFF GONZALEZ, DISTRICT JUDGE, Respondents, and STEVEN C. JACOBS, Real Party in Interest
Original petition for a writ of prohibition or mandamus challenging a district court order finding that petitioners violated a discovery order and scheduling an evidentiary hearing to determine appropriate sanctions.
Morris Law Group and Steve L. Morris and Rosa Solis-Rainey, Las Vegas; Kemp, Jones & Coulthard, LLP, and J. Randall Jones and Mark M. Jones, Las Vegas; Holland & Hart LLP and J. Stephen Peek and Robert J. Cassity, Las Vegas, for Petitioners.
Pisanelli Bice PLLC and Todd L. Bice, James J. Pisanelli, and Debra L. Spinelli, Las Vegas, for Real Party in Interest.
Gibbons, C.J. We concur: Hardesty, J., Douglas, J., Saitta, J. CHERRY, J., concurring in the result.
BEFORE THE COURT EN BANC.
In this opinion, we consider whether a Nevada district court may properly issue a discovery order that compels a litigant to violate a foreign international privacy statute. We conclude that the mere existence of an applicable foreign international privacy statute does not itself preclude Nevada district courts from ordering foreign parties to comply with Nevada discovery rules. Thus, civil litigants may not utilize foreign international privacy statutes as a shield to excuse their compliance with discovery obligations in Nevada courts. Rather, the existence of an international privacy statute is relevant to a district court's sanctions analysis if the court's discovery order is disobeyed. Here, the district court properly employed this framework when it found that the existence of a foreign international privacy statute did not excuse petitioners from complying with the district court's discovery order. And because the district court has not yet held the hearing to determine if, and the extent to which, sanctions may be warranted, our intervention at this juncture would be inappropriate. We therefore deny this writ petition.
FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
This matter arises out of real party in interest Steven C. Jacobs's termination as president and chief executive officer of petitioner Sands China. After his termination, Jacobs filed a complaint against petitioners Las Vegas Sands Corp. (LVSC) and Sands China Ltd., as well as nonparty to this writ petition, Sheldon Adelson, the chief executive officer of LVSC (collectively, Sands). Jacobs alleged that Sands breached his employment contract by refusing to award him promised stock options, among other things.
Almost three years ago, this court granted a petition for a writ of mandamus filed by Sands China and directed the district court to hold an evidentiary hearing and issue findings as to whether Sands China is subject to personal jurisdiction in Nevada. See Sands China Ltd. v. Eighth Judicial Dist. Court,
Docket No. 58294, (Order Granting Petition for Writ of Mandamus, August 26, 2011). Due to a string of jurisdictional discovery disputes that have arisen since that order was issued, the district court has yet to hold the hearing.
Throughout jurisdictional discovery, Sands China has maintained that it cannot disclose any documents containing personal information that are located in Macau due to restrictions within the Macau Personal Data Protection Act (MPDPA). Approximately 11 months into jurisdictional discovery, however, Sands disclosed for the first time that, notwithstanding the MPDPA's prohibitions, a large number of documents contained on hard drives used by Jacobs and copies of Jacobs's emails had been transported from Sands China in Macau to LVSC in the United States. In response to Sands's revelation, the district court sua sponte ordered a sanctions hearing. Based on testimony at that hearing, the district court determined that the transferred documents were knowingly transferred to LVSC's in-house counsel in Las Vegas and that the data was then placed on a server at LVSC's Las Vegas property. The district court also found that both in-house and outside counsel were aware of the existence of the transferred documents but had been concealing the transfer from the district court.
Based on these findings, the district court found that Sands's failure to disclose the transferred documents was " repetitive and abusive," ...