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Garriott Victorious In $28 Million Suit Against NCsoft

Garriott Victorious In $28 Million Suit Against NCsoft

July 30, 2010 | By Leigh Alexander

July 30, 2010 | By Leigh Alexander
More: Console/PC

Veteran game designer and erstwhile cosmonaut Richard "Lord British" Garriott has prevailed in his legal action against former employer NCsoft, scoring $28 million in a dispute over stock options and the circumstances of his departure from the company.

A federal court yesterday ruled that NCsoft had deprived Garriott of profits on his stock options by mis-categorizing his exit. The Ultima creator, whose last project with NCsoft was the disappointing Tabula Rasa, left the company in November 2008, a month after his return from his space tourism expedition on board the International Space Station.

In his suit, Garriott had claimed he was 'forced out' of NCsoft and that he had "objected to his dismissal," yet the company claimed he left voluntarily -- a decision that meant Garriott had to quickly sell his stock options in a disadvantageous market or lose them altogether, whereas had he been categorized as terminated, he would have had 10 years to divest.

According to a report in Austin's Statesman, the trial lasted three-and-a-half days, and the jury spent three hours deliberating before making the decision to award Garriott the $28 million -- less than the $47 he had been seeking, but an amount equal to the profit he missed out on by having to sell quickly.

Garriott, whose newest venture is a Facebook gaming start-up called Portalarium, said he was "very pleased with the final award". South Korea-headquarted NCsoft said via its attorney, however, that it "will be considering all options for next steps in the legal process."

According to the report, Garriott first heard he would lose his job when he was spending time in quarantine in Russia following his space trip. Just after he returned, NCsoft announced it would soon close Tabula Rasa, an MMO launched under Garriott's stewardship a year prior that became a commercial failure, with only about a year on the market.

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