By Shari Geller and Lou Krieger
This isn’t Full Tilt Poker’s month. First, it had to admit that it was no closer to repaying its US players despite the fact that its competitor, PokerStars, has refunded players’ deposits in full. Then it was hit with a public relations’ attack via a lawsuit by one of its main spokespeople, Phil Ivey. Now the seemingly defunct lawsuit brought against them by Clonie Gowen has been resurrected.
As you may recall, Gowen, a former “Team Full Tilt” member, had filed suit against Full Tilt Poker, its parent Tiltware, and various individuals including founder Raymond Bitar and co-owner Howard Lederer, for breach of contract, fraud and other claims arising out of her contention that they failed to pay her a promised 1% ownership interest in Full Tilt, allegedly worth as much as $40 million.
United States District Judge Robert C. Jones had dismissed her lawsuit back in February, 2010, finding it to be without merit. The Judge had given Gowen’s attorneys three chances to amend the language of her complaint to explain when the compensation was to occur and the nature of the alleged ownership interest. Unsatisfied with their attempt to state facts sufficient to support their claims, he dismissed the lawsuit in its entirety stating, “After three amendments, it is clear at this juncture that there is no answer.”
Gowen’s attorneys appealed the judge’s decision, and last week the United States Circuit Court of Appeal ruled in Gowen’s favor, finding that her lawsuit was wrongfully dismissed. Gowen may now proceed with her case which would present an interesting inside look into Full Tilt’s operations and deals.
Gowen's victory may end up being of the Pyrrhic variety, given the fact that Full Tilt is besieged with financial problems, and Gowen’s lawsuit, if successful, might just be another nail in the Full Tilt coffin. Another way of looking at things is that one percent ownership might have looked like a sparkling chunk of change when this case was first filed, but with things the way they are now, one percent is looking like a lot less.
While Clonie Gowan ought to be pleased that she can proceed with her lawsuit, she really shouldn’t count on the leprechauns dropping off a pot of gold anytime soon. As for Full Tilt, they should consider that when you think things couldn’t possibly get any worse, they often do just that.