If You Mess with The Bull…
There does appear to be a light at the end of the tunnel. A judge in California Superior Court has hammered “alleged” poker cheater Mike Postle with a five figure fine regarding the scandal that has his name on it and a resulting anti-SLAPP lawsuit. Whether there will be any payment or not might be the biggest question of all, however.
Todd Witteles Beneficiary of Anti-SLAPP Decision
In the courtroom of Judge Shama Mesiwala in California Superior Court, Postle faced the music regarding his withdrawal of his lawsuit against several prominent members of the poker community and other news entities. One of those people was Todd Witteles, the host of the Poker Fraud Alert podcast and a successful poker player in his own right. After hearing the details of the case, Judge Mesiwala made a decision that, for many, was not in question.
While Mesiwala decided in favor of Witteles that Postle’s actions were a “strategic lawsuit against public participation,” or a SLAPP, lawsuit (hence Witteles’ anti-SLAPP countersuit), she did not grant full relief to Witteles. Mesiwala decided that Witteles’ attorney fees were “excessive and unnecessary” and only granted a $26,982 judgment against Postle to settle the case. Witteles had asked for attorney’s fees that totaled over $43,000.
Getting the money from Postle might be the biggest trick of the entire case, however. Postle has proven that he can be rather elusive, especially when it comes to being served with legal paperwork and getting him to pay anything on the fees owed. This is despite the fact that Postle is alleged to have won as much as $300,000 during his time on Stones Live. Postle also faces another anti-SLAPP suit from Veronica Brill, who was also a part of the Postle lawsuit and has a judgment pending.
A SLAPP case is one that designates a lawsuit filed by a person was lodged with the express purpose of forcing someone into silence because they cannot fight the legal system or afford the corresponding fees. If someone has been found to have brought a lawsuit with this intent in mind and not the actual adjudication of a legal situation, then someone can file an anti-SLAPP countersuit and request that their legal fees incurred in the case be paid by the offending party.
Shouldn’t Have Filed that Lawsuit
The situation dates back to last fall when Postle was the beneficiary of a judge’s decision that any legal claims against him for gambling losses could not move forward under California law. That suit, the Stones Live fiasco, was dismissed because, under California law, plaintiffs cannot reclaim gambling winnings from a defendant (or a casino, for that matter). Instead of just stepping aside, Postle decided to push his luck.
Postle filed a $330 million lawsuit for defamation of character (among other issues) against a multitude of businesses and people in the poker community. Along with Witteles and Brill, such organizations as ESPN, PokerNews.com, and other poker professionals such as Jonathan Little, Joe Ingram, and Daniel Negreanu were named in that suit. From the start, however, it seemed that Postle was not in a position to litigate such an action.
After the suit was filed in October, Postle’s legal team filed motions to remove themselves as counsel for Postle in December, presumably because he had not paid them to act on his behalf. Postle stated on a couple of occasions that he was trying to find other legal representation, earning continuances from the judge, before dropping his defamation lawsuit in April. The dropping of the defamation lawsuit basically was an admission of guilt in the anti-SLAPP cases of Witteles and Brill and, at least in the case of Witteles, has come to an end.