Chainalysis Wins $80M Lawsuit: Ex-Employee’s Stock Option Claims Dismissed

UTC by Mayowa Adebajo · 2 min read
Chainalysis Wins $80M Lawsuit: Ex-Employee’s Stock Option Claims Dismissed
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Ratliff, who worked at Chainalysis for less than a year, claimed the company breached an alleged oral agreement to modify the terms of his stock options.

A Manhattan Supreme Court judge has dismissed a whopping $80 million lawsuit filed against blockchain analysis firm Chainalysis. The suit, which was filed by a former employee Blake Ratliff, stemmed from a disagreement over stock options. However, in a recent development, the court may have ultimately sided with Chainalysis.

Breach of Contract Claim against Chainalysis Falls Short

Ratliff, who worked at Chainalysis for less than a year, claimed the company breached an alleged oral agreement to modify the terms of his stock options. However, Justice Joel Cohen, presiding over the case, ruled in favor of Chainalysis. This decision highlights the importance of formal contracts as opposed to relying on verbal agreements.

Chainalysis, represented by Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom, argued that Ratliff’s claims were baseless and lacked timeliness. That is because they were initiated nearly six years after his relationship with the company ended. They also pointed out that the alleged agreement lacked any written documentation, a key element in contract disputes.

Therefore, they are not enforceable under New York’s statute of frauds. Moreover, the blockchain company also claim that Ratliff resided in Florida at the time of his employment. This means that he is bound by the four-year statute of limitations for oral contracts of the state, rather than Tennessee’s six-year period.

Employee Contests Dismissal: Appeal on the Horizon

Ratliff, represented by Benjamin Joelson of Akerman, expressed strong disagreement with the court’s decision. He argued that Chainalysis misinterpreted the employment agreement and disregarded the substance of his claims. Additionally, Ratliff believes the “statute of frauds” argument, which requires certain contracts to be in writing, shouldn’t apply in this case as the stock options could have been granted within a year.

Despite these arguments, Justice Cohen’s dismissal signifies a legal win for Chainalysis. However, Ratliff’s attorney has expressed plans to appeal the decision, hinting that the legal battle may not be over just yet. In a statement contained in the New York Law Journal, Joelson wrote:

“We believe Chainalysis wrongfully withheld compensation from Mr. Ratliff and we intend to continue to pursue Mr. Ratliff’s rights.”

Whatever happens next, the recent outcome of this case serves as a reminder for both employers and employees to ensure clear and documented agreements.

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