Trials & Litigation

No Sanction for Lawyer Who Told Billionaire 'I'm Not a Busboy' in Filed Deposition

Sept. 21, 2006 deposition video provided by the Las
Vegas Sun

Apparently seeking to disprove a public claim by billionaire Sheldon Adelson that he had lost his temper in a 2006 state court deposition, a Las Vegas attorney last year filed, in a subsequent federal wage-and-hour case, a video of the session.

As a deposition video shows, attorney Donald Campbell of Campbell & Williams spoke throughout in calm and measured tones. And he did not attempt to throw books at Adelson, the chairman and CEO of the Las Vegas Sands, contrary to claims publicly made by Campbell’s litigation opponents.

After Campbell filed the 2006 state court deposition in the federal case, Adelson sought to have Campbell held in contempt for violating his privacy by making confidential material public.

However, a federal judge determined last year that his court lacked jurisdiction to sanction Campbell concerning his handling of evidence in a state court case.

And a Clark County, Nev., judge on Friday held that the Las Vegas Sands, by its conduct, “greatly diminished” the confidentiality quotient by putting out a public press release about the deposition and likewise inviting Campbell to defend himself by questioning his conduct, Vegas Inc. reported.

“Where the one claiming to have fallen victim to invasion of their privacy takes occasion to publicly accuse opposing counsel of bullying tactics, an accusation for which a federal judge has found no support, the court finds it difficult to see the necessity of invoking the court’s supervisory powers over the litigation process,” state District Court Judge Kenneth Cory wrote in his Friday ruling.

The video shows that Adelson started the deposition with a contention that Campbell was late even though Campbell said it was Adelson who had kept him waiting for admission to his office after he arrived on time. Then Adelson had unrequested volumes placed on the table in front of Campbell. The attorney moved them to the floor, where they seemingly landed with an audible thump.

At that point, Adelson told Campbell to pick them up and put them on a table.

“No, I don’t think I will, Mr. Adelson,” the attorney responds.

The situation deteriorates from there as Adelson threatens to stop the deposition, calling Campbell discourteous and saying that he won’t allow his company’s facilities to be abused.

When the session resumes after a break, an armed bodyguard is sitting between Adelson and Campbell, to which the attorney objects. Speaking to off-camera opposing counsel, who apparently was Rusty Hardin of Houston, Campbell says he doesn’t know what is standard in Houston but local practice doesn’t require him to conduct a deposition sitting next to an armed bodyguard.

Adelson says he won’t be mistreated but tells Campbell he’s prepared to continue with the deposition “if you bend down and pick up the papers you threw on the floor,” saying that this would provide evidence “you’re not as violent as you appear to be.”

Campbell then picks up the pace on his side, telling Adelson: “I’m not a busboy. I don’t work for you, I work for them,” he said, gesturing toward his clients. “And I’m not taking orders or directions from you.”

He threatens to move for sanctions. Little happens on the tape after that, except for various breaks.

“Don, you’ve been a perfect gentleman,” Hardin tells Campbell as the video concludes. “Someday I’ll be able to repay you.”

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