Attorneys for both Ira Kleiman and Dr. Craig Wright have been arguing in court this week over whether or not Ira is entitled to a share of the Satoshi Nakamoto treasure trove. But now it seems Ira Kleiman’s attorneys might need a victory a little more than first thought.
A filing appeared on the Kleiman v Wright docket on Friday from Andrew O’Hagan, a Scottish journalist who Ira Kleiman’s side used as a witness in the lawsuit. He says that Ira’s lawyers, the firm Boies Schiller Flexner LLP, haven’t paid the £92,707.48 worth of costs they agreed to pay him for his participation in the suit. He has a court memorialized agreement to prove it, as well as a subsequent order from the English courts recognizing that the firm had violated the agreement and demanding payment of the debt.
O’Hagan covered the Satoshi Nakamoto coming out story with a piece in the London Review of Books in 2016. Ira Kleiman’s attorneys attempted to compel O’Hagan to submit to a deposition and share documents as a witness in Ira’s case against Dr. Wright. O’Hagan largely wasn’t interested—the scope of what the plaintiffs were asking for was ‘encyclopedic’—and he hired lawyers in England to limit what would be required of him. After what the motion calls ‘contentious’ litigation, they eventually came to terms which included an agreement that Boies Schiller Flexner would pay £127,695.48 for O’Hagan’s costs, including £34,988 up front. Despite O’Hagan testifying and fulfilling his part of the deal, the firm allegedly never paid the balance. After being forced to go back to court to force Ira’s attorneys to honor their agreement, the bill has already increased further.
O’Hagan seems highly impatient—he points out that they refused to pay the amount as recently as November 3, while the Kleiman v Wright trial was well into its first week.
Legally, this seems like a straightforward case: it’s hard to argue against a memorialized agreement as straightforward as this, and the legal basis for O’Hagan’s court order is identical to the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure regarding costs due to witnesses. Enforcing an order like this, even one from out of the jurisdiction, should be relatively uncontroversial, especially considering that the subject matter of the costs is O’Hagan’s support of the exact case currently before the Florida court.
It’s a bizarre development in an already fascinating case. Ira’s dispute with Dr. Wright is all about money—the billions of dollars’ worth of digital assets he believes are owed to his late brother’s estate—so for Ira’s attorneys to be pursued more or less to the footsteps of the courthouse because they stiffed one of their own witnesses out of more than a hundred grand is something to think about.
We know that Ira Kleiman was reaching out to lawyers promising a piece of the Satoshi bitcoin to drum up interest in taking on the case, and he has already signed away at least some of his financial interest in the outcome to a litigation fund, though we don’t know on what terms or to whom the money is owed. Just how badly do Ira’s attorneys need the jury to buy that his late brother was one half of the partnership behind Satoshi Nakamoto?
This isn’t the only distraction to crop up from Ira Kleiman’s attorneys. In March, filings in both Florida and New York revealed an ugly legal battle within the firm of Roche Freedman LLP, the other firm representing Ira Kleiman in his case against Dr. Wright.
The lawsuits were over—you guessed it—a scheme to avoid paying the partner the compensation that was owed to him. According to the plaintiff Jason Cyrulnik, his fellow partners including Kyle Roche and Vel Freedman (both of whom have appeared extensively at trial so far) conspired to remove him from the firm to avoid paying the massive compensation that was due to him over cases they were involved in. According to Roche Freedman LLP, Cyrulnik was unprofessional, obstructionist, and abusive, hence his removal from the firm.
The dispute is still ongoing.
It seems everywhere you look in Kleiman v Wright, people on Ira Kleiman’s side are trying to get their bills paid. Will they be able to use Dr. Wright’s Bitcoin to do it?
Check out all of the CoinGeek special reports on the Kleiman v Wright YouTube playlist.
New to Bitcoin? Check out CoinGeek’s Bitcoin for Beginners section, the ultimate resource guide to learn more about Bitcoin—as originally envisioned by Satoshi Nakamoto—and blockchain.