In court action taken last week in the United States District Court in Las Vegas, the majority of poker professional Clonie Gowen’s lawsuit against the entities that comprise Full Tilt Poker was dismissed.
On April 27th, a hearing in the District Court dismissed almost the entirety of Gowen’s claims that she was denied her ownership portion of Full Tilt after she was fired from her position with the site. In this decision, the Court decided that claims against several of the players named in her previous complaint – including Chris “Jesus” Ferguson, Jennifer Harman, and Andy Bloch – lacked merit and were dismissed with prejudice, meaning that she cannot re-file a case against them. The dismissal with prejudice was also extended to the other corporations that allegedly make up the Full Tilt operation, such as Pocket Kings Limited, Pocket Kings Consulting, and the actual Full Tilt Poker online operation.
There were three defendants of Gowen’s case that were separated away from those who were dismissed with prejudice. Those members of the case – Tiltware LLC, Tiltware Owner Ray Bitar, and poker professional Howard Lederer – were dismissed without prejudice, meaning that Gowen’s legal team has the ability to re-file against those entities. On April 28th, Gowen’s representation, the law firm of Howard & Howard Attorneys PLLC, filed a response that the dismissal of the case was incorrect and could lead to an appeal of the decision.
The ongoing case has captivated many in the poker world with the potential to learn about the inside operations of the second largest online poker room in the industry. In November of 2008, Gowen filed her original lawsuit against Full Tilt Poker and the core group of players known as “Team Full Tilt.” The suit was based on facts stated by Gowen that she was hired to be one of the site’s “celebrity players” and that her compensation for the job was a 1% ownership of the company and any extended parts thereof.
From 2004 until November 11th of last year (when Gowen was informed that she was being released by Full Tilt), she played under the Team Full Tilt banner, wore logos, and promoted the site at poker tournaments around the world. Gowen pointed out in court documents that she did not receive any buy-ins for tournaments or other financial backing from the company for that time other than her 1% ownership. She also alleged that there were undisclosed regular payments to the members of Team Full Tilt that started in May of 2007 and that she was denied the same compensation.
Gowen’s legal representation backed up her claims at that time by stating that there was a verbal contract offered by Bitar in 2004 and, in November of 2007, Lederer offered her $250,000 for her “past performance” with the company, which Gowen refused. Her refusal was based, according to the complaint, that she was due much more per her 1% ownership. Her attorneys have also stated that after 2007, Gowen was “ostracized” from the group and, in effect, pushed out of the organization.
Gowen was seeking her 1% of the entirety of the Full Tilt operation, which her attorneys had estimated to be $40 million, with the additional possibility of punitive damages adding onto that amount. With the majority of the case being dismissed with prejudice and only Tiltware, Bitar and Lederer eligible for any further action, Gowen’s lawsuit appears to be dead at this time. Poker News Daily will continue to monitor the case and report as news is available.