Garriott wins $28 million jury award in NCsoft suit
compensation for stock losses comes after game titan, former employer disputed facts of exit
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.