In what has been one of the most watched court cases in the poker world, the United States District Court in Las Vegas determined that poker professional Clonie Gowen’s civil lawsuit against the entities that comprise Full Tilt Poker was without merit and has been dismissed fully.
In a nine-page order rendered on February 10th, United States District Court Judge Robert C. Jones issued his rulings on the third amended complaint filed by Gowen’s attorneys against Tiltware, the company that created the software for Full Tilt Poker’s online poker site, and other defendants. Back on May 19th, Judge Jones determined that, while Gowen’s suit could not target the individual members of Team Full Tilt (such players Chris “Jesus” Ferguson, Allen Cunningham, and others), she potentially had a grievance against Tiltware and, in particular, Ray Bitar and Howard Lederer. Judge Jones dismissed the case against the individuals that Gowen cited, but allowed amended complaints to be filed against Tiltware, Bitar, and Lederer.
The decision handed down earlier this week dismisses any further actions by Gowen in her attempt to prove that she was denied her share of Full Tilt Poker. The nine-page order meticulously ticks off where Gowen’s attorneys failed to prove their case. The action in May detailed that Gowen would need to prove “the terms of the Agreement with more specificity. . . . what actions she was required to perform . . . the nature of the 1% ownership interest . . . in which exact companies she would have a 1% ownership interest, whether the 1% ownership interest reached other entities that were to be formed at a future date, or how and when Tiltware would be required to pay her.”
In October, the Court dismissed a second amended complaint, leaving Gowen’s attorneys with one final chance to provide a complaint that would detail her grievances against Tiltware, Bitar, and Lederer. The third complaint, filed in December, was 39 pages long – nine pages longer than a filed complaint can be – and was late, according to court documents. The reply against the third amended complaint from Tiltware’s attorneys was also late.
The decision from the U. S. District Court notes that the third amended complaint did not state its case clearly enough to be adjudicated. As to a paragraph of the third amended complaint that stated, “The Agreement’s terms also included that at the time Plaintiff accepted the Agreement Bitar’s offer, Plaintiff would receive be immediately compensated by receiving a 1% ownership interest in Full Tilt Poker (highlighted text was added to the third complaint and stricken terms were removed),” Judge Jones rendered a decision in stating, “The question the Court demanded that Plaintiff answer was when the compensation was to occur, not when the agreement to compensate Plaintiff was allegedly made. The alterations in the TAC (third amended complaint) simply reemphasize the latter with a conclusion that the agreement itself constituted immediate compensation, but without answering when compensation was to actually occur, or even the nature of the alleged ownership interest. After three amendments, it is clear at this juncture that there is no answer.”
As to whether Gowen had a claim to the 1%, Judge Jones wrote in his decision, “The Court could perhaps infer that Defendants were offering Plaintiff a partnership, with a right to a 1% share of profits (and losses). There is an allegation of an agreement to carry on a business in concert to share profits… As a general partner, Plaintiff would also be 1% liable for the losses of Full Tilt Poker, however, because limited partnerships in Nevada require a filing with the Secretary of State, which has not been alleged… But nowhere in the allegations does Plaintiff allege, consistent with a general partnership, that the agreement made her liable for 1% of Full Tilt Poker’s losses before it became profitable. Therefore, it is not plausible that a partnership, limited or general, was offered.” Without Gowen’s attorneys presenting a convincing case in the third amended complaint, Judge Jones dismissed the entirety of the case, with the order and official judgment being filed on February 11th.
The final decision ends a case that began in late 2008 after Gowen was dismissed from the Full Tilt Poker roster of players. Her original case, filed in November 2008, claimed a 1% ownership which was alleged to have been as much as $40 million. If her case against Full Tilt Poker had gone forward, it would have provided a look inside the operations of one of the online poker world’s major players.