With the anniversary of the “Black Friday” indictments on the minds of many in the poker community, four poker players have continued the fight against Full Tilt Poker in filing a new lawsuit against the principles in a Nevada court.
On Thursday, attorneys for four plaintiffs announced a new class action lawsuit aimed at recovering some of the nearly $150 million that is alleged the former number two site in the online poker industry owes to American players. In a Las Vegas courtroom, the attorneys for Steve Segal of New York, Nick Hammer and Robin Hougdahl of Minnesota and Todd Terry of New Jersey entered the lawsuit against alleged members of the Full Tilt Poker Board of Directors Howard Lederer and Chris “Jesus” Ferguson. The basis for the suit alleges that both Lederer and Ferguson received payments that are directly linked to player accounts and are asking the court to refund the affected player’s money and punitive damages.
If the four men at the helm of the lawsuit sound familiar, it is because they attempted to litigate much the same case last year. In a New York court, the four men filed their case against the entity of Full Tilt, alleging racketeering, bank and wire fraud and money laundering. That case ended in January of this year after the judge determined that the New York court lacked the jurisdiction over the individuals allegedly involved with the Full Tilt fiasco.
The attorneys for the four men – Las Vegas law firm Shook & Stone and the New York firm Wolf, Haldenstein, Adler, Freeman & Herz – are already trying to demonstrate to the court that this time they do have the jurisdictional rights. The players’ attorneys have cited “diversity jurisdiction” in that everyone involved in the case are residents of different states, but that there is enough personal jurisdiction to charge Lederer and Ferguson in the Las Vegas court. Lederer is a resident of Nevada, while Ferguson has “conducted substantial business” within the borders of Nevada, the lawsuit states.
Further into the suit, the players’ state that Lederer received approximately $42 million from Full Tilt Poker, in cash distributions and “profit sharing” and that Ferguson received approximately $85 million in the same manner. “The distributions and loans to Lederer, Ferguson and the other Full Tilt Poker owners were from intermingled funds containing money from the site’s player accounts,” the suit contends.
This latest suit joins a long list of filings against Full Tilt Poker and its alleged ownership. In addition to the suits filed by these four players in New York and Nevada, another lawsuit is on record in California, brought by Lary Kennedy and Greg Omotoy, seeking $900 million in damages from the company. In that suit, filed last October, Lederer and Ferguson are named as defendants alongside alleged Full Tilt Poker Chief Executive Officer Ray Bitar, Phil Ivey and Gus Hansen.
There are also three other federal suits against Full Tilt Poker in the court system in New York.
This is all on top of what originally started the downfall of the company, the “Black Friday” indictments against Full Tilt Poker and two other online poker rooms, PokerStars and the CEREUS Network sites Absolute Poker and UB.com. Bitar and Nelson Burtnick were accused of being the ownership behind the Full Tilt operation and, in September of last year, Lederer, Ferguson and Rafe Furst were added to the lawsuit after the U. S. Department of Justice accused Full Tilt of running a “Ponzi scheme” that defrauded players (it is estimated that, along with owing U. S. players about $150 million, the site owes worldwide players around another $250 million). These lawsuits are all still active in the courts with no firm dates as to any start of the legal process.