Craig Wright

Kleiman v Wright: Court adds interest to W&K’s $100M judgment, bringing the total to $143M

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Judge Beth Bloom has granted a request by Ira Kleiman’s attorneys to add pre-judgment interest to the $100 million awarded to W&K in last year’s Kleiman v Wright lawsuit. The order, granted Wednesday, adds $43,132.492.48 in interest accruing over a period of over eight years beginning in 2014, bringing the total award from the Kleiman lawsuit to more than $140 million.

Ira Kleiman’s multi-year lawsuit against Dr. Wright, in which he was alleging that his brother Dave Kleiman had assisted Dr. Wright in inventing Bitcoin, led to a jury finding for Kleiman on only one out of seven counts. That count related to the conversion of $100 million worth of intellectual property—except the jury found that the conversion only took place in respect of W&K, a company whose ownership status is uncertain.

Lawyers for Dr. Wright were not opposing the addition of prejudgment interest, which successful plaintiffs are generally entitled to under Florida law. The dispute was over the date from which the interest should start accruing. Kleiman’s lawyers were arguing that the interest should begin counting from the date that the conversion took place—said to be the date that Dr. Wright obtained judgments from courts in Australia transferring the property from W&K to himself. Lawyers for Dr. Wright were arguing that the date should be determined by the date the jury used to affix a value to the intellectual property. In absence of a concrete date they urged the court to measure it from the date of the IP’s highest asserted value, which they argue is an October 2021 social media post by Dr. Wright in which he said the value of the intellectual property was worth $252 billion.

In rejecting Dr. Wright’s formulation. Judge Bloom pointed out that as the jury rejected Kleiman’s attempt to argue that he is entitled to $126 billion for the intellectual property (arguing for a recognition of Dave Kleiman’s 50% contribution towards Bitcoin), there was no basis to use the October 2021 date to value the interest.

The increase is a small top-up to what was—and remains—a disappointing outcome for Kleiman. When the jury began deliberations late last year, Kleiman was hoping to be awarded a fortune worth hundreds of billions. Only managing to secure a verdict on one out of seven counts left him with a measly $100 million (now $143 million).

“Even with interest, the award is but a fraction of the amount plaintiffs claimed and argued to the jury ($200 billion times 3 or a total of $600 billion),” said Andres Rivero of Rivero Mestre LLP, acting for Dr. Wright.

“The ownership status of W&K is still unclear and is subject to two pending lawsuits in Palm Beach state court, meaning the likelihood of Ira Kleiman collecting any of the award is slim – if he’s entitled to any of it at all.”

As pointed out by Rivero, though Kleiman’s lawsuit was brought on behalf of both W&K and the estate of Dave Kleiman, the jury only awarded the $100 million to W&K. The ownership status of W&K is still unclear, meaning it’s questionable whether Ira Kleiman will be able to collect any of the $140 million at all.

The question of W&K’s ownership is set to be determined in a Palm Beach court sometime this year.

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