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Class Action Lawsuit vs Full Tilt Poker Dismissed

By James Spillane, Rakeback.com Poker News Staff Writer

On June 30th, 2011 a class action lawsuit was filed against Full Tilt Poker, many of its companies, owners, sponsored pros, and associates - including household poker names such as Howard Lederer, Phil Ivey, and Chris Ferguson.

It alleged that a total of 13 defendants, 9 companies and 100 unnamed 'John Does' committed in legal terms 'conversion' - essentially theft and breach of ownership rights with players' poker funds – and violated the RICO act, which would make Full Tilt a criminal organization.

The suit was filed in the US District court by lawyers and well-known poker names including Todd Terry, and made on behalf of all US players with real-money balances on FTP as of Black Friday.

Full Tilt Poker Lawsuit Dismissed

According to Law360.com and Subject: Poker, Judge Leonard Sand dismissed most of the suit this Monday, except claims made against defendants Ray Bitar and Nelson Burtnick. The other individuals and companies named were found to not be linked to enough evidence proving they played any role in any criminal activities.

Judge Sands did however dismiss all RICO charges against Bitar and Burtnick, finding that these two defendants did violate various laws causing the Department Of Justice (DOJ) to seize FTP's assets, however they did not intentionally establish a corrupt racketeering organization.

What Does This Mean?

The Judge's motion to dismiss doesn't necessarily end the class action lawsuit's chances of success, as the plaintiffs have been granted leave to amend their complaint with new information since it's seven month's old. It isn't strictly speaking even a refutation of the facts of the case. More recent complaints by the DOJ itself against Full Tilt do indeed speak of the defendants' 'theft' and a civil suit of the DOJ's own is still in place against Bitar, Lederer, Ferguson and Rafe Furst.

This is good news despite the partial dismissal as it shows that the courts are recognizing that the US Government should lead the way in helping to retrieve FTP players' funds. Expensive class-action lawsuits from private lawyers are not the only option, and no longer an unfortunate necessity.

A report made by Gaming Intelligence last week reported that FTP and the DOJ had agreed on the terms of a forfeiture agreement with the DOJ on January 24th. This should then enable investment firm Groupe Bernard Tapie (GBT) to begin paying the $80 million needed to release the company from the DOJ.

Once a deal is complete we can expect Full Tilt to be on track to be both under completely new management, on good terms with the DOJ, and holding a new gaming license in the near future. As part of the deal GBT would then refund non-US players' $150 million in account balances, while the DOJ would cover the same amount owed to US players.

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