PlayUp Takes Injunction Request Against Former US CEO to Federal Appeals Court
PlayUp has appealed a federal judge’s ruling denying the Australian-based gaming company an injunction against its former CEO, who it claims violated the terms of her employment contract and scuttled a deal that would have led to a $450 million sale of the company.
The appeal is the latest twist in a case that also features a countersuit by Dr. Laila Mintas, who accused PlayUp officials of deliberately withholding documents from the court as it sought the court order.
Last week, Nevada US District Judge Gloria Navarro turned down PlayUp’s request for an injunction, saying that the former CEO offered “substantial evidence” that her actions did not lead to FTX declining to buy the company.
PlayUp filed its appeal Wednesday in the US Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.
According to the lawsuits, Mintas’ employment as PlayUp’s US CEO ended on Nov. 30. In the weeks leading up to that, PlayUp representatives were negotiating a sale of the company to cryptocurrency exchange FTX.
The deal fell through. PlayUp, in its suit, claimed Mintas disparaged the company to FTX representatives, souring them on the purchase. Mintas said it was PlayUp’s Australian leadership that was responsible as they wanted FTX to pay another $170 million in retention bonuses for key personnel and the acquisition of PlayChip, a cryptocurrency designed for gaming sites.
PlayUp also has accused Mintas of demanding her annual salary be doubled to $1 million and that she replace Daniel Simic as the company’s global CEO. Mintas countered that making her the global CEO would be the only way to salvage the FTX deal. She added that she went without a salary for a period of time while working for the company and also has personally staked $1.2 million in it.
According to court records, it’s possible the case may end up in mediation.
Because it is an appeal seeking a preliminary injunction, a rule requiring the completion of a mediation questionnaire applies. A letter from Chief Circuit Judge Mary Murguia noted that the circuit employs eight mediators who help resolve hundreds of cases each year.
Participating in mediation, if it’s offered, would not delay any court proceeding, the judge said. In addition, the program adheres by confidentiality rules and does not reveal communication tied to mediation to judges or court staff who work outside of the mediation unit.
For the appeal, PlayUp must submit its opening brief by Feb. 8, with Mintas filing her response within 28 days after receiving the brief or by March 8. PlayUp may offer an optional response within 21 days after Mintas’ response.
PlayUp Also Filed Suit in Australia
The legal case between PlayUp and Mintas isn’t just taking place in the states.
PlayUp also filed suit against her in the Federal Court of Australia on Dec. 1, a calendar day after filing the suit in the US District Court in Nevada.
According to Australian court records, that court issued a restraining order against Mintas that prohibited her from publishing or making false or disparaging statements regarding PlayUp employees and directors to FTX, PlayUp’s commercial partners or affiliates, or “any gaming authority or gaming regulator in the United States of America, India, New Zealand, or Australia.”
Mintas has questioned whether that order is valid in the US.
PlayUp operates sports betting apps in New Jersey and Colorado. The company also has sports betting access agreements in place for Indiana and Iowa. It also has iGaming access deals in Iowa, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania.
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