The Kleiman v. Wright lawsuit is going to trial now that a federal court has denied Craig Wright’s motion for summary judgment. Over a billion dollars in bitcoin sits at the center of the dispute.
Craig Wright has been locked in a legal battle with his former business partner’s estate since 2018, when plaintiffs alleged Wright fraudulently attempted to seize the deceased David Kleiman’s share of bitcoins and intellectual property that the two incurred together in their business dealings. Wright has said he himself is the pseudonymous creator of Bitcoin known as Satoshi Nakomoto, and that Kleiman was a pivotal part in the creation of Bitcoin. However, Wright has repeatedly been caught in falsehoods related to these claims.
He’s since tried to evade the case, most recently by applying for a summary judgment motion which contends that key facts aren’t in dispute, and thus the case is thrown out. However, the Southern District of Florida disagreed, saying a number of facts remain in dispute in an opinion just shy of 100 pages.
Stephen Palley, partner at Anderson Kill, detailed a number of key takeaways from the opinion in a Twitter thread, saying: “This was a major loss by Wright in a detailed and well-supported opinion.”
Among them, the court said the statute of limitations related to the case remains unclear since there’s a “genuine dispute” as to when Kleiman and Wright ended their partnership. Wright contends this occurred in 2011, but a message from Wright in 2013 says that he and Kleiman “have been working on something of a while now.” The court later said that it’s possible that Wright’s actions caused Kleiman’s estate to ease off since he said he’d transfer the funds, which would lengthen the time before any legal action and run up against the statute of limitations.
Wright’s other arguments, including that any alleged fraud had not damaged the Kleiman estate, were all rejected. Additionally, a procedural mistake may have made things worse for the Wright camp. Wright’s counsel didn’t file a reply statement of material facts or a record citation to support an argument.
The trial is set for January of 2021. According to Palley, the questions related to the statute of limitations are Wright’s only defense left after the rejection of other arguments in this opinion.
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