The dust had just settled around the Mike Postle cardroom controversy after a recent dismissal of the case when Postle filed a defamation lawsuit against several other poker players and publications.
The controversy began when Veronica Brill, a professional poker player, spoke up about Postle’s alleged cheating during the Stones Gambling Hall “Stones Live” cash game stream (September 2019). Several players watched the video and commented on it on social media, also accusing Postle of cheating.
Postle responded by filing a $330 million defamation lawsuit against Brill, Joey Ingram, Daniel Negreanu, PokerNews, and ESPN, among others. The suit claims that because of the allegations of cheating, Postle is no longer able to work as a professional poker player and provide for his young daughter.
USPoker, an industry-recognized magazine, interviewed defamation attorney Paul Sternberg. Sternberg lives and works in Houston, Texas, and specializes in defamation suits of this kind. He is also the author of The Guide to Internet Defamation and Website Removal.
Postle Faces an Uphill Battle Says Defamation Attorney Paul Sternberg
Paul Sternberg stated that, while he is not fully apprised of this case’s details, achieving a judgment in any defamation or libel case is not an easy task. Firstly, he reminds us, facts are never defamatory, and opinions aren’t always considered to be so either.
If someone wrongly calls you a felon, says Paul Sternberg, you can easily prove that you are not. This is an example of a defamation case in which the plaintiff may win.
But in cases like Postle’s, you have to prove malicious intent on the part of the other poker players and news outlets. Whether or not he cheated is not the issue, in this case, says Paul Sternberg. What Postle has to prove beyond a shadow of a doubt to the court is that the accused poker players and news outlets intended to maliciously and purposefully damage his career with their allegations.
“That’s a huge hurdle,” says Sternberg, who specializes in defamation cases involving social media. “It’s tough to get monetary damages.”
Postle May End Up Facing More Scrutiny as a Result of the Lawsuit Says Paul Sternberg
A lawsuit opens Postle up to depositions that could possibly reveal further damaging information, warns Sternberg. And instead of allowing the dust to settle and patching up his career, Postle may find himself staying in the public eye much longer than he intended.
This is known as the “Streisand Effect,” in reference to Barbara Steisand’s 2003 suit to suppress her Malibu home’s media photos. She was fighting to protect her privacy, but it only drew more attention to the case and the photos than she may have otherwise received.
In the age of social media, defamation suits are becoming more popular and frequent than ever before. And while winning defamation cases is difficult, it’s not always the most challenging aspect of pursuing such litigation, says Paul Sternberg – you also have to be up against a defendant who can pay those damages.
When asked about his opinion on the chances of Postle winning his case, Paul Sternberg replied, “In the end, it’s going to be hard for him to jump that hurdle, and very expensive. I truly wouldn’t do it.”