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Class-Action Lawsuit Filed Against Full Tilt Poker

Jul 2, 2011
Author: Michael Mancini
Class-Action Lawsuit Filed Against Full Tilt Poker

A day after news broke of a possible investment into Full Tilt Poker, a class-action lawsuit was filed against the site in the Southern District Court in New York.

The plaintiffs in the suit – Steve Segal, Nick Hammer, Robin Hougdahl and Todd Terry – filed the suit in response to the failure of Full Tilt Poker to pay back account balances to USA poker players. The suit seeks the “return of U.S. player funds and…damages under the RICO statute.”

Some of the most interesting aspects of the lawsuit are the specific defendants named in the filing. As in the Justice Department’s indictments against Full Tilt, founders Ray Bitar and Nelson Burtnick are among the defendants. However, the class-action suit also names most of the most prominent Team Full Tilt professional players, including Phil Ivey, Chris Ferguson, Howard Lederer, Phil Gordon, Erik Seidel, Gus Hansen, Jennifer Harman, Andy Bloch, Mike Matusow, John Juanda, Allen Cunningham, Erick Lindgren and Patrik Antonius.

The filing also mentions “Joe Does 1-100,” leaving the potential for up to 100 more defendants to be named in the suit. This may be due to the lack of public knowledge about the inner workings of the company. While most observers agree that some Team Full Tilt pros simply worked as spokespersons for the site, while others were more involved in executive functions, there is much less agreement on which players filled what roles. For instance, the suit alleges that Ivey holds at least a 5% stake in the company, though it is unclear where this information was derived from.

In the complaint, the plaintiffs seek to represent all Full Tilt Poker account holders in the United States. The suit claims that Full Tilt “refuses to refund the U.S. Players’ deposits, to reimburse U.S. players for the dollar-value of the contents of their Player Accounts, or to permit U.S. players access to their Player Accounts.” The suit claims that an estimated $150 million is still tied up in accounts that are inaccessible to USA players.

The news of the class action lawsuit came just a matter of hours after it was announced that Ivey would be dropping his own lawsuit against Full Tilt. According to Ivey’s lawyer David Chesnoff, the Ivey lawsuit was being dropped because “he believes Full Tilt is taking steps to see that the players are paid.”

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