Crockers' Last Stand?

29 August 2001
The $1 billion class-action lawsuit brought against gaming, banking and media companies by siblings Lisa and David Crocker could be dismissed by week's end, IGN has learned.

None of the parties are commenting, but sources close to the case told IGN that the possible dismissal comes on the heels of the plaintiffs losing a federal hearing that could have kicked the case back to local courts.

The Crockers filed the suit in May after what the pair's attorney called a concern for people who may have been victimized by online gaming sites.

The complaint was filed in the Third Judicial Circuit Court in Madison County, Ill. Although the case was filed at a local level, it sought class-action status, which the local court granted.

The 300-plus page complaint named a host of companies and entities as defendants, both gaming related and not. Among those named as defendants were: World Gaming (formally Starnet Communications); the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA); Inc.; CBS Corp.; Viacom International Inc.; Secure Entertainment Corporation; Acorn Development Group LLC; Bank of America; Visa USA Inc.; and MasterCard International Inc.

According to two different sources that are close to the case, the suit will be voluntarily dismissed by Tuesday or Wednesday after the plaintiffs lost a key hearing.

A hearing was held August 20 to determine where the case would be heard. The defendants had petitioned for the case to be heard at the federal level because the plaintiffs were using RICO (Racketeering Influenced Corrupt Organizations Act) as the cornerstone to the case.

At the hearing the judge ruled it was a RICO case and that a RICO case belongs in federal court. If the plaintiffs didn't want the case to be in federal court, they shouldn't have filed a RICO claim, the judge said.

The defendants also had filed a motion for the case to be "tagged on" to a similar case filed in the federal courts in New Orleans, which was dismissed but is being appealed. RICO claims are at the center of the New Orleans case as well.

According to sources close to the Crocker case, after losing the hearing that could have sent it back to the circuit courts, which would have been a favorable ruling for the plaintiffs, the Crockers have decided to voluntarily dismiss it.

The case will be dismissed before another hearing, which was scheduled to take place in October. With the case due to stay in the federal court system, the parties would have had to go before the Multi-District Litigation Panel in San Diego. That hearing will be unnecessary since the case has been dismissed.

The case can be dismissed quickly once the official motion is filed, as long as the judge agrees the class that is represented in the case is having its best interests looked out for.

Although the case will be dismissed, it may not be the last time the gaming industry hears from the Crockers.

It is believed that the defendants will not seek legal costs and that the judge will allow the case to be dismissed. The case, however, will be dismissed without prejudices, meaning that the current case will be dismissed, but the plaintiffs have the right to re-file it at the state level or under other federal codes.