Jurisprudence proved a hot topic this week in the world of poker as more news came to light involving poker pro Gordon Vayo’s lawsuit against PokerStars. Vayo had sued the company after not getting paid almost $700,000 he won in a Spring Championship of Online Poker (SCOOP) tournament last year. PokerStars alleged he was in the United States playing at the time and not in Canada, as he claimed.
Vayo sued the company in federal court in California in May but has now apparently filed paperwork to dismiss his own case, according to Flushdraw.net. PokerStars alleged he had used a mobile internet provider to help disguise his location and that the ruse violated its terms of service.
Forged document allegations
In addition, PokerStars now alleges that Vayo used forged documents to change bank statements and other records to help his cause, and the company noted in its latest filings with the court: “Vayo’s ‘evidence’ was forged, and he had used it to attempt to defraud [PokerStars] and this Court.”
The company also alleges Vayo fabricated Bell Canada internet bills in an attempt to make it appear he had been living north of the border at the time of his win in 2017. In court filings, PokerStars’ attorneys offer examples of the plaintiff’s attempted forgeries with several examples showing how the internet bill was altered. It notes that the bill isn’t consistent with other Bell Canada bills and that there are discrepancies regarding his account number within the bill.
“Indeed, this one instance of the Account Number does not match the Account Number listed elsewhere on Vayo’s bills – even elsewhere on the same bill – but it does match his customer number,” the filing reads. “The only explanation is that the Forger forgot to alter this portion of Vayo’s bill, and thus accidentally left the original, unaltered Account Number.”
In its filing, PokerStars also seeks to recover expenses for legal costs arguing: “Courts have the inherent power to sanction parties and attorneys who conduct litigation in bad faith or who perpetrate fraud on the court.”
Those attorneys’ fees total $279,347 and attorneys are also seeking administrative costs of $8,641. The plaintiff argues that the lawsuit should have been filed on the Isle of Man, where the company is based and regulated since it doesn’t do business in the U.S. except in the state of New Jersey. Awarding attorneys fees for “frivolous” lawsuits is consistent with these types of suits on the island, the filing notes.
Vayo has more than $6.2 million in live tournament winnings and finished second in the 2016 WSOP Main Event for $4.67 million. As part of his original lawsuit, Vayo’s lawyers alleged PokerStars froze his account and spent nearly a year harassing him and investigating his whereabouts during the tournament.
“What ensued was a nearly year-long inquest, during which [PokerStars] engaged in an appalling campaign of harassment, prying into every aspect of Mr. Vayo’s record, demanding Mr. Vayo produce detailed retroactive proof of his location, and even opening meritless investigations into his friends’ accounts, in order to gin up a pretext for not paying Mr. Vayo what he had won,” his original suit alleges.
The suit also alleged PokerStars is not concerned with players using the poker site from outside legal jurisdictions. The company appears to dispute those claims in its efforts to fend off his lawsuit.
Vayo said he had provided the company with documents proving his whereabouts while playing in the original tournament. Those documents now appear to be at the heart of the suit and PokerStars’ filings allege they were forged and that after being confronted with those accusations, Vayo and his attorneys dropped the suit.
“As soon as [PokerStars] discovered the forgery and confronted Vayo about it, Vayo voluntarily and unconditionally dismissed this action, and his counsel withdrew,” court filings note.
Vayo has apparently now retained a new attorney as the matter of dismissal and PokerStars attempts to recover its costs.
PokerStars alleges that Vayo acted in “bad faith” by violating its terms of service, using forged documents as evidence of his location, and filing the suit in California instead of the Isle of Man. A further hearing for the case is set for Dec. 18.
It’s unknown at this time if the alleged forgeries may constitute criminal actions against Vayo.