Clonie Gowan sues Full Tilt Poker

Monday, November 17, 2008 12:08 | Filled in poker

For some reason, I enjoy legal disputes in the poker world.  There hasn’t been anything exciting since the Gold-Leyser debacle a while back.  Now I have a new legal interest.  Clonie Gowan (or Cycalonia Gowan as it turns out) has sued Full Tilt and pretty much all the associated Tilters for failure to pay her sponsorship monies.

You can read the complaint for yourself, it isn’t hard to follow.  I’ll summarize the key bits for you:

  • She outlines a new player to me in the Tilt corporate tangle.  Previous lawsuits have identified Kolyma as a related company to Full Tilt and most everyone knows about TiltWare, but this is the first time I’ve seen Pocket Kings listed as a Full Tilt corporation.  They appear to be the Irish company connected to the enterprise.  Google conforms that they openly recruit for Tilt employees, so I am probably just the last to know.
  • She asserts that not only the original Team Full Tilt, but newer members like Patrik Antonius and Gus Hansen are “directors and shareholder/members of the companies.”  I had assumed that ownership only really accrued to the original gang.
  • She asserts that she was offered 1% ownership in Tilt at the outset.
  • She says that she never received any compensation for wearing Tilt gear, wasn’t paid winning at Tilt sponsored events (except one!), wasn’t paid for print, web and billboard advertisements and wasn’t paid to play for them in tourneys
  • She says no one at Tilt got money until May 2007, when everyone but her started to roll in the dough.
  • Apparently Tilt disputed the ownership claim, because they refused to pay her a percentage but in November 2007, Lederer offered $250,000 to pay her for services in the past.
  • She thinks Tilt is worth $4 billion
  • She filed the lawsuit after she was told she was being fired from Team Full Tilt

The list of things she didn’t get paid for conspicuously does not include television advertisements, which suggests that she was paid for those.

It seems to me that her claim on companies formed recently, like Pocket Kings is pretty tenuous.  She asserts that she was specifically promised 1% of Tiltware and FTP.  It would be fairly easy for Lederer, et al to move money around and make Tiltware and FTP as profitable or unprofitable as they like.

There will probably be a pitched battle by some defendants to dispute jurisdiction.  If someone like Antonius doesn’t actually own shares in FTP, they will probably file motions to escape this mess.  When Tilt/Kolyma were sued before for patent infringement, it was a mess, although they did eventually settle.

On his forum, Daniel Negreanu started with his opinion that Clonie “has gone absolutely ding bat crazy and is making things up.”  He says quite confidently that they would never offer her 1%.  I suspect that this means that people he knows well (say, Mike Matusow, for instance) don’t get 1% and therefore he doesn’t think she ever would.  Later he gets nasty.

There is also a 2+2 NVG thread about it.  It has the usual assortment of good analysis and moronic posts common to NVG.  An interesting tidbit is that Ed Bolivia posts that he knows of a number of people who were offered 1% stakes to buy back in the day.  So it does appear that 1% stakes were going around.

As with the Leyser Gold case, there will be answers to the complaints and then we will probably see a quiet period as they conduct discovery.  Most of that takes place out of the eye of the courtroom, so we won’t see a lot of filings until that is done.  At that point, it will either settle or we’ll usually get some good dirt in the form of a motion for summary judgment.  They will cite evidence gathered in discover and lay out most of their theory of the case at that point.

Unaccountably, the notable blog Pokerati has started linking to me, so I thought I’d give them a shout-out.  They are a particularly well-written summary of the latest news in the poker world and unlike me, they post all the time.

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