A class action lawsuit was filed against Full Tilt Poker in the Southern District of New York on Thursday, a move that could potentially delay the return of player funds following the tentative sale of the company to European investors.
Plaintiffs Steve Segal, Nick Hammer, Robin Hougdahl, and Todd Terry filed the lawsuit against the embattled online poker site on Thursday, seeking the “return of U.S. player funds and for damages under the RICO statute.”
The complaint names several defendants, including Ray Bitar and Nelson Burtnick, who were indicted by the Department of Justice on Black Friday. Also named are Team Full Tilt members Howard Lederer, Chris Ferguson, Phil Ivey, Phil Gordon, Jennifer Harman-Traniello, Erik Seidel, Andy Bloch, Mike Matusow, Allen Cunningham, Gus Hansen, John Juanda, Patrik Antonius and Erick Lindgren.
The complaint also lists “John Does 1-100,” meaning there could be up to 100 additional parties to the legal action that are not yet known.
According to the complaint, the Plaintiffs “represent a nation-wide class of Full Tilt account holders residing in the United States whose player account held balances on April 15, 2011. … Defendants would never have been in possession of U.S. Players’ funds, and U.S. Players would never have suffered injury, but for the Defendants’ widespread scheme to commit wire fraud, bank fraud and money laundering in order to pad their own pockets.”
The Plaintiffs claim that U.S. players are “wrongfully denied access” to an estimated $150 million in funds they deposited on the site. “After deceitfully separating U.S. players from their money, Full Tilt Poker refuses to refund the U.S. Players’ deposits, to reimburse U.S. players for the dollar-value of the contents of their Player Accounts, or to permit U.S. players access to their Player Accounts,” the complain reads.
The suit also claims that Full Tilt has repeatedly misled players into thinking their funds are safe. “Full Tilt’s statements are of little comfort to U.S. players who, in some cases, have hundreds of thousands of dollars tied up in their inaccessible Full Tilt player accounts,” the suit reads.
Phil Ivey’s connection to Full Tilt Poker is brought up on page 12 of the 58-page filing: “Ivey is — and at all relevant times was — a shareholder and director of, and/or a participant in, Full Tilt and/or one or more Full Tilt Companies.” The suit alleges that Ivey holds at least a 5% stake in the company.
Ivey took a stand against Full Tilt by refusing to play in this summer’s World Series of Poker and filed a lawsuit against the company for damages to his reputation. Ivey withdrew his suit in Nevada state court Thursday, according to lawyer David Chesnoff, who said, “Mr. Ivey intends to dismiss his lawsuit as he believes Full Tilt is taking steps to see that the players are paid.”
The class-action lawsuit has received mixed reviews from the online poker community. The suit was filed on the same day that Full Tilt Poker had reportedly reached an agreement with a group of European investors that could allow the company to pay out as much as $150 million to U.S. players.
Now that the company faces yet another roadblock, only time will tell if the rumored investors follow through with the deal. The agreement has not yet been finalized and could take up to three weeks, according to multiple reports, as the buyers want to be sure that Full Tilt can strike a settlement with the DOJ before completing the investment.
Stay tuned to Poker News Daily for the latest Full Tilt Poker updates.