Gambling Friendship Gone Wrong After a Breach of Oral Contract

Michael Haeberle and Jack Battaglia represented a plaintiff in a dispute over loans given for gambling during a weekend trip to Las Vegas. The plaintiff and the defendant were close friends, and they shared an interest in gambling, which they often did together. During these outings, the defendant often asked the plaintiff to loan him money, which the plaintiff always did. The defendant had always repaid his debts. The defendant appeared to live a lavish life and consistently exaggerated his supposed wealth. He lied about buying a fancy car, owning a business, and having a safe of hundreds of thousands of dollars. However, the plaintiff did not know these were lies until after that Las Vegas weekend.

In August 2014, the plaintiff and defendant took a weekend trip to Las Vegas to play in a blackjack tournament. Over that weekend, they gambled at four different casinos and the defendant borrowed $400,000 from the plaintiff. The defendant promised to repay his “friend”. The defendant subsequently lost the $400,000. After the trip, the plaintiff contacted the defendant numerous times about repayment of the loan. At first, the defendant promised to “make things right” and “fulfill his obligations”. After months, the defendant started disputing the amount of the loan. Then, he refused to give the plaintiff any portion of it. When it became clear the defendant had chosen not to repay his debt, the plaintiff filed a lawsuit against him for breach of contract and fraud.

During the four-day jury trial, the plaintiff presented evidence that proved that the defendant had defrauded the plaintiff into loaning him the $400,000 and then breached his oral contract to repay the loan. The jury returned a verdict on the breach of contract count for the plaintiff and against the defendant in the amount of $400,000, and a verdict on the fraud count for the plaintiff and against the defendant in the amount of $528,571.96, plus punitive damages of $221,428.04, for a total award of $750,000.

Just because an agreement may not be written down does not make it any less enforceable, as this case shows. If you have a breach of contract matter, contact us at (312) 223-1699.

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