Manhattan Court Dismisses Former Employee’s $80M Lawsuit Against Blockchain Firm Chainalysis

News | June 24, 2024 By:

On Tuesday, June 11, 2024, Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Joel Cohen dismissed a $80 million breach-of-contract lawsuit filed against Chainalysis, a blockchain analysis firm.

The plaintiff in the case was Blake Ratliff, a former employee of Chainalysis who had claimed the company failed to fulfill an alleged oral agreement that modified the terms of his stock options. Ratliff worked at Chainalysis, which specializes in tracing cryptocurrency transactions such as bitcoin on the blockchain, for less than a year before being terminated in 2017.

In his lawsuit, Ratliff argued that Chainalysis co-founders Michael Gronager and Jonathan Levin had assured him that his stock would continue vesting after one year of employment, as originally outlined in his contract. He asserted they accelerated the vesting timeline orally. Ratliff believed this guaranteed him stock options now worth over $80 million.

However, Justice Cohen agreed with Chainalysis’ argument that Ratliff’s claims should be dismissed. The company argued the suit was untimely as it was filed six years after his employment ended. Furthermore, Ratliff resided in Florida at the time, which has a four-year statute of limitations for oral agreements rather than Tennessee’s six years as he claimed.

Additionally, Chainalysis maintained Ratliff’s original employment contract clearly stated stock would only vest after 12 months of continuous work, which he did not complete. The company also pointed out the contract barred oral modifications, and the alleged amended terms discussed by Gronager and Levin were too vague to be enforceable.

In his response, Ratliff acknowledged the contractual language but insisted the company founders’ assurances constituted a valid amendment. He also rejected Chainalysis’ interpretation of the contract. However, Justice Cohen found Chainalysis’ position had merit and dismissed the case.

Please contact BlockTribune for access to a copy of this filing.