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Clonie Gowen files suit against Full Tilt
The lawsuit, filed in Nevada District Court last Friday, Nov. 14, names Tiltware LLC and Full Tilt Poker as defendants and seeks $40 million in damages over Breach of Contract, Unjust Enrichment, Breach of Fiduciary Duty, Breach of the Covenant of Good Faith and Fair Dealing, and Fraud.
The filing came just three days after Gowen received notification that she was being dropped from the roster of Team Full Tilt.
Included as defendants in the 20-page lawsuit were some of Full Tilt's highest-profile endorsers, including Howard Lederer, Andy Bloch, Phil Ivey, Chris "Jesus" Ferguson, John Juanda, Phil Gordon, Erick Lindgren, Erik Seidel, Jennifer Harman-Traniello, Mike Matusow, Allen Cunningham, Gus Hansen and Patrik Antonius.
Other companies involved in Full Tilt Poker's operations, including Pocket Kings Ltd., Kolyma Corporation and A.V.V., were also named as defendants in the complaint. Judge Robert C. Jones will preside over the case.
In her complaint, Gowen alleges that in 2004 she was offered, and accepted, a 1% stake in Tiltware and Full Tilt Poker in exchange for her services as a celebrity endorser. She further alleges that she received no compensation other than that ownership stake for wearing Full Tilt merchandise and promoting the online cardroom.
According to the court documents, when other Team Full Tilt members were given distribution checks for their ownership interests in May 2007, Gowen did not receive one; in November of the same year she declined a $250,000 payment offered to her by Howard Lederer, as it was only a fraction of what 1% of the company was worth.
On the advice of her attorneys, Gowen declined to comment for this article. Tiltware LLC, meanwhile, issued this statement regarding the lawsuit:
"Tiltware, LLC, has been made aware of the recent filing of a meritless lawsuit by a former Full Tilt Poker endorser -- Ms. Cycalona Gowen. All claims have no merit and there are many inaccuracies improperly and unlawfully asserted by Ms. Gowen within her frivolous complaint. Tiltware LLC expects that this lawsuit will be dealt with accordingly by a competent court in due course."
A former teen beauty queen in her home state of Oklahoma, Gowen originally came to poker fame thanks to a final-table appearance during the first season of the World Poker Tour. She followed up that Costa Rica Classic performance with a win in the first-ever WPT Ladies Night, which would remain the single highest-rated episode of the landmark poker series for several years.
Before her confrontation with her former sponsor, Gowen had spent 2008 building upon her early success with a string of notable wins. In July she won the $5,000 event at the Bellagio Cup IV for over $437,000 in prize money.
In September she followed that up with $120,000 from her third Poker After Dark win, putting her atop the list of that show's winners along with Johnny Chan. Then in October she claimed the crown at the 2008 World Poker Open in Tunica for another $193,000. In all, those three wins netted her as much money as she had won in her entire career up to that point.