Unless you have been under a rock or otherwise cut off from all forms of media, you are well aware of Kleiman v Wright, the largest federal civil lawsuit in history. The estate of Dave Kleiman, represented by his estranged brother Ira Kleiman, filed a case against Dr. Craig Wright alleging that Dave and Craig invented Bitcoin together and indeed were partners in its creation. At stake is a bounty of 1.1 million Bitcoin worth tens of billions of dollars in today’s money. Wright’s response to these claims by Ira are straightforward: Craig is Satoshi Nakamoto, the sole inventor of Bitcoin and the author of the Bitcoin white paper with no partners. Ultimately a jury will decide who will be awarded the Bitcoin fortune.
Day 4 of the third week of this trial started with the plaintiff’s lawyers continuing the previous day’s cross-examination of Dr. D. Stewart MacIntyre. He is an infectious disease expert in both military and private practice with a very believable and likable personality. Dr. MacIntyre explained how seriously ill Dave became over time. The doctor testified that due to the number of severe ailments and medications, it would make it impossible for Dave to perform in-depth functions. On cross-examination, attorney Andrew Brenner actually struggled to present a concrete impeachment of defense witness Dr. MacIntyre. Andrew insisted that Dave was working continuously on Bitcoin although he was hospitalized for MRSA, suffered bedsores, muscle atrophy, brittle bones, and was paralyzed. Dave spent nearly 900 days in the hospital during the last years of his remarkable life. Dr. MacIntyre was the perfect defense witness to make Brenner look like a bully because of his endearing, charming, and likable personality.
Next on the witness stand for the defense was Kimon Andreou. Many people called Dave their best friend. It was clear after hearing his testimony, Andreou was Dave’s best friend. Andreou came across as quite genuine and sincere. The two worked together and over time built that relationship into a true friendship. Andreou spent more time than any other with Dave in the hospital and saw him almost daily up until his death. Andreou told the court that Dave talked to him about Craig on several topics but never mentioned Bitcoin or any type of partnership with Craig. During the testimony, there were many text messages between Andreou and Dave that were introduced into evidence. Several of them were read aloud to show the jovial relationship between them and humanizing Dave. The courtroom chuckled when Andreou read the following text from Dave; “Happy Turkey Day!” to which Andreou replied with, “Gobble Gobble Gobble”. Brenner’s cross examination of Andreou was short and didn’t have much substance. It was a feeble attempt to tie Dave and Craig together as Satoshi Nakamoto in a partnership.
Moving on, Carter Conrad is a former business partner of Dave along with Patrick Paige. He was able to show the court that the three of them had a legal partnership. The defense inquired if Dave understood legal partnerships and was knowledgeable on establishing such a partnership. Conrad confirmed that to be true. He also said he had never heard of a partnership between Dave and Craig. In his testimony, he shared that Dave talked about Craig from time to time but never mentioned Bitcoin.
David Kuharcik was Dave’s friend and accountant who joined the trial via a Zoom call. Complete with a Hawaiian shirt, David appeared quite relaxed. Much like attorney-client privilege, David and Dave had a client privilege with regards to personal accounting information. Kuharcik used that privilege to avoid answering several questions that were posed by defense lawyer Amanda McGovern. She was attempting to get on record that Dave never provided any partnership information to his accountant. She was getting visibly agitated at being roadblocked. This was near the end of the day so after a sidebar, Judge Beth Bloom decided to continue this testimony on Friday via Zoom.
One noticeable outcome on this day’s testimony was that all of the witnesses had minimal, if any, contact with Ira Kleiman although they were highly involved with Dave in his later years. It’s also obvious that Dave was a special individual with a high intellect and ability to make everyone feel as a friend.
When a verdict is reached in this case, it will be very interesting to see how the court will award the Bitcoin assets. They had a much lower value at the time of Dave’s demise than they do today. If the coins are split between Ira and Craig, to what percentage will the court see fit to divide them. All part of the process and highly anticipated determination.
Follow the courtroom proceedings with daily updates from Kurt Wuckert Jr here:
Carolyn Coley is a blockchain reporter. She joined Smartereum after graduating from UC Berkeley in 2018.