Gar­riott wins $28 mil­lion jury award in NC­soft suit

com­pen­sa­tion for stock losses comes af­ter game ti­tan, for­mer em­ployer dis­puted facts of exit

Austin American-Statesman - - BUSINESS - By Kirk Laden­dorf

A fed­eral court jury on Thurs­day awarded $28 mil­lion to Austin com­puter game pi­o­neer Richard Gar­riott in his law­suit against NC­soft Corp., his for­mer em­ployer.

Gar­riott, the iconic game de­vel­oper known to fans as Lord Bri­tish, had sued NC­soft for the way it han­dled his de­par­ture from the com­pany in 2008. Gar­riott claimed he was fired, but NC­soft said he left vol­un­tar­ily shortly af­ter he com­pleted a ride into space and a stay at the In­ter­na­tional Space Sta­tion that cost him $20 mil­lion.

NC­soft’s ac­tion, Gar­riott claimed, cost him mil­lions of dol­lars be­cause he was forced to quickly sell his op­tions for more than 400,000 shares of the com­pany’s stock while the stock mar­ket was se­verely de­pressed. Un­der Gar­riott’s agree­ment with NC­soft, he would have had up to 10 years to ex­er­cise the op­tions if he were to be fired.

The jury de­lib­er­ated for three hours Thurs­day af­ter­noon af­ter a 3½-day trial at U.S. District Court in Austin. Gar­riott had asked for $47 mil­lion. The award cov­ered the profit that he said he had lost out on by hav­ing to ex­er­cise his op­tions so quickly.

“I am ex­tremely pleased with the jury’s de­ci­sion,” Gar­riott said in a state­ment. “The facts were clear that my de­par­ture from NC­soft was not vol­un­tary. I am very pleased with the fi­nal award.”

Laura Mer­ritt, a lawyer rep­re­sent­ing NC­soft in the case, said the South Korean soft­ware com­pany “will be con­sid­er­ing all op­tions for next steps in the le­gal process.”

Gar­riott had tes­ti­fied that he was in Rus­sia, in quar­an­tine af­ter his space flight, when an NC­soft ex­ec­u­tive called to tell him his days with the com­pany were over. He had worked for NC­soft for sev­eral years af­ter it bought an Austin com­pany he co-founded, Des­ti­na­tion Games.

Part of his work at NC­soft in­volved run­ning the devel­op­ment ef­fort for “Tab­ula Rasa,” a mul­ti­player on­line game. The game was re­leased in 2007, but it was not suc­cess­ful, and NC­soft dis­con­tin­ued it early last year.

Richard Gar­riott

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