The lawsuit was filed on November 14, 2008, and took most of the poker industry by surprise, as Clonie Gowen, long-time member of the Full Tilt Poker family sued the company and many of its primary partners for numerous wrongdoings, including breach of contract and fraud.
When the suit was first filed in the U.S. District Court in Nevada, it was revealed that Gowen sought $40 million in damages for the breaches. For years, an oral agreement prompted her to represent Full Tilt Poker in global poker tournaments and in other endeavors in exchange for a percentage of ownership in the company, but when she sought to collect compensation that others were receiving in 2008, she was denied. She sued on the grounds of breach of contract, breach of fiduciary duties, breach of covenant of good faith and fair dealing, unjust enrichment from the use of her image and publicity, and fraud due to intentional misrepresentation.
The Full Tilt Poker/Tiltware LLC response came in January of 2009 in the form of a motion to dismiss the complaint. Included in the motion were comments about Gowen’s “typhoon of litigation” and “random claims” borne of her “thirst for publicity.” They asked that the 13 individual defendants - the entirety of Team Full Tilt - be dismissed, along with the majority of her claims.
Gowen then followed up with an amended complaint, but not with any defendants removed but two more added - Pocket Kings Consulting and Tiltproof. She also added seven more complaints, including declaratory relief and negligent misrepresentation. Another week later, she filed a motion for expedited discovery and hearing on the case.
In the first few days of May, it was revealed that an April 27th hearing in the aforementioned District Court dismissed the majority of Gowen’s case. U.S. Magistrate Judge Robert J. Johnston dismissed her claims because they lacked merit, along with any claim against all but three defendants, leaving only Tiltware LLC, company owner Ray Bitar, and Team Full Tilt member Howard Lederer to remain open to further action. Those released from the lawsuit “with prejudice” and free from any further corresponding actions were Full Tilt Poker, Pocket Kings, Chris Ferguson, Phil Gordon, Andy Bloch, Phil Ivey, John Juanda, Erick Lindgren, Jennifer Harman, Erik Seidel, Mike Matusow, Allen Cunningham, Gus Hansen, and Patrik Antonius.
The only opening presented to Gowen was that Tiltware LLC, Ray Bitar, and Howard Lederer were dismissed from the case “without prejudice,” which allows a case to be re-filed against those three particular defendants. Gowen’s attorneys then promptly filed a motion to extend the case and review secondary claims not specifically dismissed by the judge. They also filed a response to the judgment that the dismissal was in error and an appeal would be necessary to sort out the case.
While there is room for movement on the part of Gowen’s attorneys at Howard & Howard Attorneys PLLC, the likelihood of Gowen actually obtaining any monetary compensation for her claims seems unlikely. With the majority of the case dismissed and an appeal on a select few claims unlikely to see much success, the Full Tilt Poker group seems to have won and escaped without paying Gowen a “red” cent.