Technology surrounds us and permeates our daily lives. Not all that long ago, the idea of a pocket-sized device enabling us to stream movies and TV shows, take high-quality photographs and use it like a credit or debit card would have been absurd. Today, it’s easy to imagine Star Trek-like devices in our homes in the near future. Some of those developing technologies involve money and investments.
Cryptocurrencies have been all over the news as late and provide a prime illustration of a potential area of future litigation. We’re using Bitcoin as an example since it is the best known, and first, of these new “monies.” In early 2009 the first Bitcoin was introduced to the world and here just days before we enter 2018 it’s still somewhat of a mystery to most. It is not issued by any government nor is it backed by any physical collateral, it is simply an invented finite number of units (21 billion) that people could trade on the internet for products, services and cash, establishing a value for the cryptocurrency. An anonymous “virtual cash” first used in deep- and dark-net transactions, it became a real-world medium when two pizzas were bought for 10,000 bitcoins in 2010.
Bitcoin is a highly volatile investment. On January 1, 2017, one bitcoin was traded at approximately $1,000; on December 21, 2017, that same bitcoin had a value of just over $15,000, a 15-fold increase. Within the month of December itself, the fluctuations are painted in a stark light. On the 1st, trading was at about $9,700/bitcoin, on the 17th it had peaked at almost $19,800 followed by a slide to $12,500 on the 22nd and a rebound to $15,700 on the 23rd. Put another way, those two pizzas from 2010 would have cost between $97- and $198-million depending on the day. A bit pricey for a slice no matter how good it is. With that kind of rapid change and huge sums of money gained or lost, without a doubt, lawsuits are inevitable.
One thing is glaringly obvious, the cryptocurrency markets are as complicated as any stock, bond or commodities trading anywhere in the world. Perhaps more so due to the lack of any governmental oversight or regulation. That means when the court filings start it will be vital to have somebody who knows that world inside out.
Many attorneys practice in the area of securities litigation, one such is the prominent Atlanta, Georgia-based Martin Chitwood. Mr. Chitwood has expressed his love for the law in several ways. First, as a litigator but also as the author of a book about the relationship between English and West African Common Law and as the writer of a TV movie set in 1962 Alabama.
Chitwood’s contribution to the legal profession is one that would be desired when looking to retain counsel. He has been a part of several class action lawsuits as a plaintiffs’ attorney that resulted in sizeable recoveries for the people who brought the action. Among those are cases involving BankAmerica Corp. ($490 million recovery), Oxford Health Plans, Inc ($300 million recovery) and Providian Financial ($65 million recovery). A lawyer with experience in different jurisdictions is also a plus. He has represented clients in state courts throughout Georgia and in federal courts within the 11th, 2nd, 5th, 8th and 9th Circuits, among others.
Benefits and Pitfalls of Technology
There is no question that technology has helped make life easier for the vast majority of us. From keeping up with friends on social media to having purchases delivered straight to your door through companies like Amazon and eBay to having access to an abundance of information that used to take buildings to store, the way we live has certainly changed, even in the last decade. However, by their very nature, people, corporations and governments are reactive, not proactive to these technologies. Whether we’re talking cryptocurrency, or Artificial Intelligence or something we don’t even have a name for yet, we are going to need trailblazers with many different areas of expertise to lead us through it all.