Gowan – Tilt update

Tuesday, February 10, 2009 15:51 | Filled in poker

I’ve been slacking on the updates.  You will recall that Full Tilt moved to dismiss the charges on January 6th.   On January 22, Gowan amended her complaint, adding new charges and defendants.  I don’t think it will really have done a lot to address the specifics of the motion to dismiss, but we won’t know the answer to that for a while.  A few days later, they filed an “ex parte” motion to compell Ferguson and Bitar to submit to extended and expidited discovery.  This is fairly unusual, generally reserved for situations where there is shady dealings by the other party.  Gowan claimed that the Tilt folks were concealing assets and running a big shell game.  Although I tend to agree that they are indeed doing that, I think it is more about hiding their cash from the long arm of Uncle Sam more than concern about Gowan.  The judge did not grant the motion “ex parte” but instead unsealed it and provided the Tilt side a chance to reply.  “Ex Parte” just means that one side of the dispute communicated to the judge without advising the other party.

Tilt has answered the motion now.  They make several points.  The first is huffing and puffing about the “ex parte” motion in the first place.  They say that filing a motion that was out of order, insulting and un-American.  They devote a lot of space to explaining why things shouldn’t have been done that way and explaining how it inconvenienced them.  I think this is posturing, much as the original ex parte motion was posturing.  Gowan is painting them as shady operators and they are acting hurt.  I don’t think that the judge will be all that impressed by either one.  In effect, the ex parte bit is out the window now, since the judge unsealed it and gave them an opportunity to respond.  The second point is that the motion is predicated on the notion that Tilt is hiding money, but there is no evidence for this aside from Gowan’s naked assertion that she thinks they are.  I think this is a pretty good point.  They also point out that Bitar and Ferguson are very busy guys who would be quite put out to drop everything and be deposed.  This is not going to impress the judge.  Finally, they point out that there is an ordinary and regular process for obtaining discovery and they assert that the normal process will work just fine.

They also point out very often that they will file a new motion to dismiss and that it doesn’t make sense to conduct discovery until the judge rules on that, since many of the counts may be gone and therefore not eligible for discovery.  The use the favorite description of defense counsel by calling Gowan’s purpose a “fishing expedition.”  Of course, it is a fishing expedition to some extent.  A lot of discovery is a fishing expedition.  I suspect that Tilt is going to drag this case out as long and painfully as they possibly can.

We should expect to see a motion to dismiss soon that will look much like the first one.  I suspect that the judge will likely preserve enough of the case to allow Gowan to proceed into discovery.  It would appear that the discovery will be contentious and annoying.  Full Tilt knows that she doesn’t know much about the details of how their arrangement works and they don’t intend to make it easy for her to figure it out.  Ultimately, I don’t think that will work.  The burden for her to survival dismissal at this point in the case isn’t that high.

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