Judge awards $143 million final judgment following Kleiman v. Wright Bitcoin trial verdict

A Florida federal judge has added $43 million in prejudgment interest to a judgment that includes a $100 million jury verdict in the Kleiman v. Wright Bitcoin case.
Written by Eileen Brown, Contributor

In December 2021, a Miami jury awarded $100 million to W&K Info Defense Research as a jury verdict in the Kleiman v. Wright case in Florida. And now, a whole load of interest has been applied to the verdict.

This significant case in the history of blockchain technology concerns an issue between deceased forensics expert David Kleiman and Dr. Craig Wright, the Australian entrepreneur who claims to have invented Bitcoin. W&K Info Defense Research is a company that Dr. Wright and the late computer forensics expert Dave Kleiman founded. Dr. Wright's ex-wife Lynn appears to be the majority shareholder in the company after shares were transferred into her name after her divorce from Wright in 2013. David Kleiman's brother Ira Kleiman reinstated W&K Info Defense Research L.L.C. as a company in 2018.

Ira Kleiman sued Wright in 2018 over Dr. Wright's alleged scheme to steal 1.1 million Bitcoins (worth around $43B today) and intellectual property related to the Bitcoin software from the partnership. Following a three-week trial and a week of deliberations, the jury awarded $100 million to W&K for its conversion claim.

According to the judge, U.S. District Judge Beth Bloom granted W&K's request for prejudgment interest dating back to 2013, which is when the jury found that Wright committed the conversion.


This week, the Amended Final Judgement says that "consistent with the Court's Order, E.C.F. No. [888], prejudgment interest shall be awarded in the amount of $43,132,492.48 pursuant to Florida Statute § 55.03."

"We are pleased that Judge Bloom granted our client more than $43 million in prejudgment interest on top of the jury's $100 million verdict," write Vel Freedman, Kyle Roche, Stephen Lagos, Andrew Brenner, Stephen Zack, and Maxwell Pritt, Counsel for W&K Info Defense Research.

"This final judgment, like the verdict that led to it, sets a historical precedent in cryptocurrency and blockchain. Our firms, Roche Freedman and Boies Schiller Flexner, are honored to have represented the plaintiffs, protected Kleiman's legacy, and ensured his family receives the benefits of his labor that paved the way for this innovative and transformative industry."

Dr. Wright's legal team did not oppose the claim for interest. Florida Statute; § 55.03 states that interest "accrues on the judgment until it is paid." According to the judgment, "post-judgment interest shall accrue on this Judgment pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1961" with post-judgment interest rates set as per 28 U.S.C. 1961. Dr. Wright's legal team disputed the date the interest would start to accrue.

The jury's verdict stated that Dr. Wright is liable to W&K Info Defense Research L.L.C. No compensatory damages were awarded to the Estate of David Kleiman, and $100 million was awarded to W&K Info Defense Research L.L.C.

Andres Rivero of Rivero Mestre L.L.P., Lead Attorney, acting for Dr. Wright, said, "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). The result remains a disappointing outcome for Kleiman, who had hoped to get a vast fortune."

So when will Dr Wright actually have to pay the $143 million to W&K? Rivero said: "Plaintiffs have said that they will appeal, and Dr. Wright will defend and is considering a cross-appeal.

Further, two lawsuits are pending in state court in Palm Beach County to determine the ownership and control of W&K. In fact, the lion's share of W&K does not belong to Ira Kleiman, and he will not be the main beneficiary of money received by an entity he does not own and control." 

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