(CN) – A federal judge in Manhattan upheld a judgment against a television producer who failed to pay professional poker player and analyst Phil Gordon for lining up colleagues to appear on a proposed poker show for CBS.
Producer Tony DeRosa-Grund claimed he should be off the hook from paying Gordon more than $600,000, based on new evidence that Gordon owned another gambling venture when he struck the deal with the producer.
U.S. District Judge Denise Cote said DeRosa-Grund showed a “disregard for the judicial process,” and could have learned about the alleged conflict of interest had he not shown a “lack of diligence in obtaining discovery.”
In 2005, the producer and Projo Poker approached Gordon to co-host a major network poker show. The premise was to set up poker tournaments with professionals and amateurs competing against each other.
Gordon was then serving as a commentator for Bravo’s “Celebrity Poker Showdown,” but agreed to host 26 episodes of the new show for $340,000.
DeRosa-Grund told Gordon that the deal with CBS was done and pressed him to “line up” professional poker players to appear on the show, which he did. He also hired an attorney to get him out of his deal with Bravo.
The deal with Projo Poker called for a $170,000 payment to Gordon within 15 business days of signing the contract. The rest would be paid out over the course of the deal. After 15 days and no payment, Gordon learned that DeRosa-Grund never had a deal with CBS.
He sued for breach of contract and fraudulent inducement, and moved for summary judgment in December 2006.
DeRosa-Grund argued that the contract was “not enforceable,” because Gordon had held himself out as a consultant to the gambling Web site Full Tilt Poker, where he was actually a director and shareholder. DeRosa-Grund claimed he never would have offered the contract had he known that.
But the producer failed to show up for his deposition and “produced few documents” to back up his claim, Judge Cote wrote.
“DeRosa-Grund had not shown that he had been at all diligent in pursuing discovery; instead, he ignored this action until the plaintiffs filed their motion for summary judgment,” Cote wrote in a June 2007 opinion. The judge warned that “adverse inferences will be applied against him” if he kept refusing to comply with discovery.
The judge then granted summary judgment to the plaintiffs in January 2008.
DeRosa-Grund sought to avoid the judgment by claiming that the disclosure of Gordon’s ownership in Full Tilt could not have been discovered in time to move for a new trial. He said he learned the information from a 2008 complaint filed in Nevada by Gordon’s ex-business partner.
Judge Cote said that lawsuit had no bearing on this case, and because the allegations about Gordon’s ownership hadn’t changed since he opposed summary judgment, they “cannot be considered new, non-cumulative evidence.”
The judge upheld the judgment, but declined to award the plaintiffs monetary sanctions.
“DeRosa-Grund is hereby warned, however, that continued vexatious or bad faith conduct may subject him to sanction by this court,” Cote concluded.