Florida Judge Denies Kleiman Estate’s Request for New Trial Against Craig Wright

Wright has “failed to make a single payment” on the $100 million judgment awarded to the plaintiffs in last year’s trial, Kleiman’s lawyer said.

Mar 1, 2022 at 8:54 p.m. UTC
Updated Mar 2, 2022 at 4:19 p.m. UTC

Cheyenne Ligon is a CoinDesk news reporter with a focus on crypto regulation and policy. She has no significant crypto holdings.

There will be no new trial in the case of the estate of David Kleiman versus Craig Wright, the Australian computer programmer best known for his widely disputed claims to be the inventor of Bitcoin.

On Monday, Florida judge Beth Bloom struck down a motion by attorneys for Ira Kleiman – the brother of Wright’s deceased friend and collaborator, Dave – for a new trial, citing the violation of a court order to not discuss Kleiman’s troubled relationship with his brother.

Kleiman, on behalf of Dave’s estate, sued Wright in a Florida court for allegedly stealing his brother’s fair share of intellectual property the pair supposedly developed together (including the Bitcoin IP, the plaintiffs claimed) and bitcoins they were said to have mined jointly. Kleiman said the two created a business entity – W&K Info Defense Research – to develop and mine bitcoin, but Wright’s attorneys attempted to convince the jury the entity was a failed attempt by Dave and Wright’s ex-wife to get government contracts for software development.

The attempt worked – mostly. After five weeks in the courtroom detailing the convoluted relationships between Wright and the Kleiman family, as well as Wright’s legal issues with the Australian Taxation Office, the jury ultimately sided with Wright on all but one of the charges.

The jury found Wright guilty of intellectual property theft and ordered him to pay $100 million in damages to W&K. The verdict did not address, one way or the other, Wright’s claim to be Satoshi Nakamoto, the pseudonymous creator of Bitcoin, whose real identity has never been conclusively determined.

The legal battle rages on

Attorneys for Kleiman’s estate initially hailed the outcome of the trial as a win, but their motion for a new trial filed on Jan. 4 details their concern that, by hinting about the estrangement between Ira and Dave, Wright’s attorneys unfairly swayed the jury.

The court disagreed, finding that the plaintiff’s arguments were ultimately “unpersuasive and insufficient to warrant a new trial.” Bloom added that Kleiman’s attorneys failed to object to questions about the brothers’ relationship during the trial.

Andres Rivero, the lead attorney for Wright, said that Judge Bloom "got this just right, ruling to sustain the jury’s plain and compelling verdict for Dr. Wright."

Vel Freedman, lead attorney for the plaintiffs, told CoinDesk the next step was to appeal Bloom’s decision.

Then, there’s the matter of the $100 million bill – which Freedman said could be bumped to $140 million if Kleiman’s motion to add prejudgment interest is approved.

“Since [Wright] has not filed for an appeal, nor bonded that amount, enforcement begins right away,” Freedman said. “And since he’s failed to make a single payment on it, we’ll begin enforcement.”

UPDATE (March 2, 16:19 UTC): Updated with quote from Wright's attorney.


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Cheyenne Ligon is a CoinDesk news reporter with a focus on crypto regulation and policy. She has no significant crypto holdings.

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Cheyenne Ligon is a CoinDesk news reporter with a focus on crypto regulation and policy. She has no significant crypto holdings.

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