Poker Pro Polias Awarded $340k After False Theft ClaimsNovember 28, 2014 5:12 pm
Before you accuse someone of stealing your money, first make sure you have explored all other options, including the possibility the dough may be stuffed inside a soft toy in your shared hotel room. And definitely don’t automatically take to Facebook and continually spread “malicious” rumours about your former pal. That’s a lesson Tobin Ryall, Andy Hun Wei Lee, Sandy Jan and Rhys Gould have found out the hard way after being ordered to pay Aussie poker pro Nicholas Polias $340,000 in damages for defamation.
The incident dates back to 2012, when Tobin “Toby” Ryall left $2,000 on a dressing table of the Las Vegas hotel room he was sharing with buddy Nicholas Polias. After the money was misplaced, Polias posted his explanation of what might have happened on Facebook, but soon faced accusations of theft by some members of the poker community, including four of his ‘friends.’ As Tobin Ryall wrote at the time:
“You are a lying, cheating, stealing, selfish, incredibly negative, self-pitying, bad person. Susan deserves better than you and you deserve to have no friends.”
Another one of the group took matters a stage further, and posted the following comments: “Lol, nick is f—ing stupid. His mother is f—ing stupid. What a dumb bitch. How are people like this allowed to breed? Disgraceful, good riddance to bad s—. Nick you should be ashamed of yourself, for the human being you are.”
After Polias then accidentally short changed a high-stakes player at the Star casino in Sydney, which he immediately corrected, Andy Hun Wei Lee subsequently republished Tobin Ryall’s defamatory Facebook comments on the social network. Similar accusations were made by the other members of the group, and summing up the case, Justice Stephen Rothman said:
“In some respects, the confined nature of the readership made the hurt and distress (and the need for vindication) even greater than would be case if it were a publication at large and not to persons who knew and dealt with (Mr Polias) on a regular basis. I am satisfied that the plaintiff suffered significant damage to his reputation and felt significantly distressed.”
Andy Hun Wei Lee was subsequently ordered to pay $130,000 in damages, and Tobin Ryall a further $120,000, while Sandy Jan was hit with a $50,000 penalty and Rhys Gould had to pay $35,000 in damages.