Kleiman Bitcoin Case Heads to Trial as Motion for Sanctions Against Craig Wright Is Denied
A Florida judge threw out a motion for sanctions against Wright saying the lawsuit over 1.1 million BTC would be better decided by a jury.
Divisive crypto industry businessman Craig Wright is heading to a jury trial in a case that revolves around billions of dollars in bitcoin.
The move to trial comes after the legal team for the estate of David Kleiman, Wright's deceased former business partner, was denied an omnibus motion filed in May attempting to sanction Wright over his alleged misbehavior.
"According to Plaintiffs [Ira Kleiman et al.], throughout the litigation Defendant [Craig Wright] has engaged in a sustained pattern of perjury, forged evidence, misleading filings and obstruction,” according to a court order filed Wednesday.
Judge Beth Bloom of the District Court in the Southern District of Florida, while concerned by the facts of the allegations, ruled in favor of Wright to dismiss the motion, saying the matter was best left "for a jury to make as fact finder at trial.”
"The Court ... exercises its discretion and declines to impose Plaintiffs’ suggested alternative lesser sanctions," Judge Bloom said.
In response to Kleiman's omnibus motion, Wright had responded with his own motion citing an expert witness, a psychologist who had diagnosed him with autism.
"[D]r. Ami Klin, a licensed clinical psychologist who has studied Autism Spectrum Disorder for more than 35 years, ... will testify that he has diagnosed Dr. Wright with Autism Spectrum Disorder with high intellectual skills," Wright's response, hosted by court listener, says.
Judge Bloom commented that "[A]s Plaintiffs note, Defendant's testimony has been glaringly inconsistent at numerous junctures. Defendant, however, stresses that he has been diagnosed as being on the autism spectrum, and thus his testimony needs to be evaluated in that light."
Citing the need to meet a "clear and convincing evidence standard," Bloom said "Plaintiffs have not carried their burden to show that default sanctions are appropriate."
The court had previously threatened to sanction Wright if he did not produce a list of his bitcoin holdings. However, the judge said he has since "purportedly" done so.
As such, the motion was denied by Judge Bloom, making way for the case to go to trial by jury.
Craig Wright controversially claims he is the creator of bitcoin, but he has not made public convincing evidence to back up the claim and has faced allegations of fraud, which he contests. The ongoing Kleiman court case revolves around the ownership of a 1.1 million bitcoin fortune worth an estimated $10.2 billion that he has claimed is locked up in an encrypted trust.
The trove of bitcoin was allegedly mined by Wright with Kleiman in the early days of bitcoin. The Kleiman estate, represented by Ira Klaiman, is suing Wright for half the bitcoin as well as intellectual property.
See the full court court order in detail below:
The leader in news and information on cryptocurrency, digital assets and the future of money, CoinDesk is a media outlet that strives for the highest journalistic standards and abides by a strict set of editorial policies. CoinDesk is an independent operating subsidiary of Digital Currency Group, which invests in cryptocurrencies and blockchain startups. As part of their compensation, certain CoinDesk employees, including editorial employees, may receive exposure to DCG equity in the form of stock appreciation rights, which vest over a multi-year period. CoinDesk journalists are not allowed to purchase stock outright in DCG.
Learn more about Consensus 2024, CoinDesk’s longest-running and most influential event that brings together all sides of crypto, blockchain and Web3. Head to consensus.coindesk.com to register and buy your pass now.