Courts To Determine Full Tilt Poker Fate

by | Published: Thursday, July 7th, 2011

The Full Tilt Poker saga is continuing with a class action lawsuit filed in the Southern District of New York last week.

The pending lawsuit means player funds tied up in the Full Tilt network face an uncertain future depending how things play out.

The plaintiffs in the case are listed as Steve Segal, Nick Hammer, Robin Hougdahl and Todd Terry.

The suit claims they are seeking the “return of U.S. player funds and for damages under the RICO statute.”

The defendants in the case are listed as Ray Bitar and Nelson Burtnick among others who were indicted by the Department of Justice on ‘Black Friday’.

In addition to that pair also named in the suit or members of Team Full Tilt including Howard Lederer, Chris Ferguson, Phil Ivey, Phil Gordon, Jennifer Harman-Traniello, Erik Seidel, Andy Bloch, Mike Matusow, Allen Cunningham, Gus Hansen, John Juanda, Patrik Antonius and Erick Lindgren.

It also uses “John Does 1-100,” as a defendant which means up to 100 other people could be included in the proceedings who haven’t yet been formerly named.

The exact wording of the complaint reads as follows, the plaintiffs:

represent a nation-wide class of Full Tilt account holders residing in the United States whose player account held balances on April 15, 2011. … Defendants would never have been in possession of U.S. Players’ funds, and U.S. Players would never have suffered injury, but for the Defendants’ widespread scheme to commit wire fraud, bank fraud and money laundering in order to pad their own pockets.”

The claim is that players in the United States are wrongfully denied access to up to $150 million in funds which they have deposited on the website.

“After deceitfully separating U.S. players from their money, Full Tilt Poker 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,” it says.

It also claims that players have been deliberately mislead by Full Tilt into thinking their funds are safe.

“Full Tilt’s statements are of little comfort to U.S. players who, in some cases, have hundreds of thousands of dollars tied up in their inaccessible Full Tilt player accounts,” it says.

The 58 page long filing doesn’t list Phil Ivey directly until page 12 where it says:

“Ivey is — and at all relevant times was — a shareholder and director of, and/or a participant in, Full Tilt and/or one or more Full Tilt Companies.”

It also says that Ivey controls at least a 5% share of the company.

Ivey has hit back at Full Tilt and refused to play in the most recent World Series of Poker as a result.

He’s also sued the company claiming damages to his reputation however he withdrew his suit in Nevada last week as he said through his lawyer David Chesnoff.

“Mr. Ivey intends to dismiss his lawsuit as he believes Full Tilt is taking steps to see that the players are paid,” he said.

The class action has divided many members in the online poker realm specifically the timing of it.

The suit was filed the same day as reports came through that an agreement had been reached with a European investment group who were attempting to buy the company.

As part of the deal they’d agreed to take on the nearly $150 million in payouts to US based players.

It’s not yet known how this lawsuit will affect the deal however there’s no way it can fully go through while it’s tied up in the courts.

Current forecasts say it could be at least another fortnight until anything solid is decided upon meaning even more anxious times for Full Tilt members.

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