Mike Postle has been ordered to pay almost $27,000 in attorney’s fees to Todd Witteles. The PokerFraudAlert founder was among prominent poker personalities listed as defendants in Postle’s $330 million defamation lawsuit in 2020.
Witteles fought back by filing an “anti-SLAPP” (Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation) motion against Postle, seeking to have his libel claims be declared as “frivolous” and the case be dismissed altogether. Now, the judgment has been handed down in favor of Witteles, leaving Postle on the hook for $26,982 in damages.
Presiding California Superior Court Judge Shama H. Mesiwala ruled that online posts and phrases in Witteles’ poker forum constituted free speech and were fully protected by the First Amendment. Furthermore, the subject discussed in the forum “concerned matters of public interest“.
Judge Mesiwala also noted that Postle’s act of voluntarily dropping his lawsuit means he automatically loses the anti-SLAPP motion.
Attorney’s Fees Reduced
While Witteles claimed victory in his anti-SLAPP motion against Postle, the total amount of legal costs he originally sought was reduced. Judge Mesiwala stated that some of the charges billed by Witteles’ camp were “excessive and unnecessary“. She deducted $16,332.50 from the original $43,314.50 indicated in the motion, meaning Postle now owes Witteles nearly $27,000.
Reacting to the ruling, Witteles’ lawyer Eric Bensamochan said that while they’re disappointed that the attorney fees were reduced, they accept and respect the judgment without additional argument. Bensamochan added that his client intends on vigorously pursuing Postle to force the alleged cheater pay the monies to his client.
Witteles and his legal team initially offered not to proceed with the anti-SLAPP motion if Postle would drop Witteles from the list of defendants in his defamation lawsuit, but Postle turned down the offer. Veronica Brill also filed a similar motion against Postle and she is also expected to be awarded attorney’s fees when the ruling is released on May 19.
In September 2019, Postle made headlines when he was implicated in a massive cheating scandal involving livestreamed cash games at Stones Gambling Hall. Poker player and former Stones commentator Brill dropped the bomb on Twitter, leading to a multi-million lawsuit filed by dozens of players affected by the alleged cheating.
In June 2020, a US district judge dismissed the lawsuit against Postle, Stones, and tournament director Justin Kuraitis, citing California law.
Some of the plaintiffs subsequently agreed to a settlement with both Stones and Kuraitis, while Postle launched his own libel case against his accusers, which included some of poker’s top personalities and media entities, such as Joey Ingram, Daniel Negreanu, Haralabos Voulgaris, Doug Polk and Upswing Poker, the ESPN, Veronica Brill, Witteles and many more. Postle dropped the case in April.