Quarterly report pursuant to Section 13 or 15(d)

Commitments and Contingencies

Commitments and Contingencies
6 Months Ended
Jun. 30, 2022
Commitments and Contingencies Disclosure [Abstract]  
Commitments and Contingencies

Note 16. Commitments and Contingencies


Operating Leases:

The Company leases its primary office locations, manufacturing facilities and data center hosting facilities, as well as a ground lease, under noncancelable lease agreements that expire on varying dates through 2032. See Note 12. “Leases” to these unaudited Notes to Condensed Consolidated Financial Statements.

Water Reservation Agreement:

Whinstone executed a water reservation agreement in April 2021 with the lessor of the ground lease to obtain a certain quantity of non-potable cooling water from a nearby lake to be used by the Company for evaporative cooling at our Whinstone Facility. During the six months ended June 30, 2022, and concurrent with the third amendment to the ground lease described in Note 12. “Leases” to these unaudited Notes to Condensed Consolidated Financial Statements, the Company executed a first amendment to the water reservation agreement to obtain additional non-potable cooling water for the expanded lease area, for an additional $1.0 million in annual payments. The term of the water reservation agreement was reset for a period now expiring on January 31, 2032, followed by three ten-year renewal periods, unless terminated earlier, and requires total annual payments of approximately $2.0 million.


The Company concluded that the agreement was not a lease or a derivative instrument. Because the Company obtained an additional right of use for the reserved non-potable cooling water amount, and the charges were increased by a standalone price commensurate with the additional non-potable cooling water use rights and at market rates, the water reservation agreement was determined to be a lease modification accounted for as a separate contract. As such, the fees of the water reservation agreement were excluded from the lease payments of the ground lease and the water reservation agreement was accounted for as a separate executory contract.


Legal Proceedings:

The Company, and its subsidiaries, are subject at times to various claims, lawsuits and governmental proceedings relating to the Company’s business and transactions arising in the ordinary course of business. The Company cannot predict the final outcome of any such proceedings; however, it assesses the probability of an unfavorable outcome of any material litigation, claims or proceedings to determine whether a liability had been incurred. Where appropriate, the Company vigorously defends such claims, lawsuits and proceedings. Some of these claims, lawsuits and proceedings seek damages, including, consequential, exemplary or punitive damages, in amounts that could, if awarded, be significant. Certain of the claims, lawsuits and proceedings arising in ordinary course of business are covered by the Company’s insurance program. The Company maintains property and various types of liability insurance to protect the Company from such claims. In terms of any matters where no insurance coverage is available to the Company, or where coverage is available and the Company maintains a retention or deductible associated with such insurance, the Company may establish an accrual for such loss, retention or deductible based on current available information. In accordance with accounting guidance, if it is probable that an asset has been impaired or a liability has been incurred as of the date of the financial statements, and the amount of loss is reasonably estimable, then an accrual for the cost to resolve or settle these claims is recorded by the Company in the accompanying consolidated balance sheets. If it is reasonably possible that an asset may be impaired as of the date of the financial statement, then the Company discloses the range of possible loss. Expenses related to the defense of such claims are recorded by the Company as incurred and included in the accompanying consolidated statements of operations. Management, with the assistance of outside counsel, may from time to time adjust such accruals according to new developments in the matter, court rulings, or changes in the strategy affecting the Company’s defense of such matters. Based on current information, the Company does not believe there is a reasonable possibility that, other than with regard to the Class Action described below, a material loss, if any, will result from claims, lawsuits or proceedings to which the Company is subject to either individually, or in the aggregate.

Whinstone Customer Dispute

On June 13, 2022, GMO Gamecenter USA, Inc., a California corporation, and GMO Internet, Inc., a corporation organized and existing under the laws of Tokyo, Japan (collectively “GMO”), filed a complaint against Whinstone US, Inc. in the Supreme Court of the State of New York County of New York: Commercial Division, Index No.: 656762/2022, subsequently removed to the United States District Court, S.D.N.Y., Case No. 1:22-cv-05974-JPC (the “Complaint”). After extensive discussions and upon Whinstone demanding that GMO reasonably negotiate a new hosting agreement in good faith pursuant to the terms of its existing agreement, GMO filed the Complaint. GMO alleges Whinstone breached a Colocation Services Agreement by failing to indemnify GMO for certain contractual loss of profit, and causing certain other damages to GMO in the nature of loss of revenue, lost profits and loss of savings. GMO is seeking compensatory damages in excess of $50 million, and pre-judgment and post-judgment interest. Whinstone is preparing to respond to the Complaint, which is due August 22, 2022. Whinstone denies the substantive allegations of the Complaint, intends to vigorously defend Whinstone against GMO’s claims, and intends to assert a Counterclaim against GMO.

Class Actions and Related Claims

On February 17, 2018, Creighton Takata filed an action asserting putative class action claims on behalf of the Company’s stockholders in the United District Court for the District of New Jersey, Takata v. Riot Blockchain Inc., et al., Case No. 3: 18-cv-02293. On April 18, 2018, Joseph J. Klapper, Jr., filed a complaint against Riot Blockchain, Inc., and certain of its officers and directors in the United District Court for the District of New Jersey, Klapper v. Riot Blockchain Inc., et al., Case No. 3: 18-cv-8031. The complaints contained substantially similar allegations, asserting violations of federal securities laws under Section 10(b) and Section 20(a) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 on behalf of a putative class of stockholders that purchased stock from November 13, 2017 through February 15, 2018. The complaints alleged that the Company and certain of its officers and directors made, caused to be made, or failed to correct false and/or misleading statements in press releases and public filings regarding its business plan in connection with its cryptocurrency business. The complaints request damages in unspecified amounts, costs and fees of bringing the action, and other unspecified relief.

On November 6, 2018, the court in the Takata action issued an order consolidating Takata with Klapper into a single putative class action. On April 30, 2020, the court granted Defendants’ motions to dismiss the consolidated complaint, which resulted in the dismissal of all claims without prejudice.

On December 24, 2020, Lead Plaintiff filed another amended complaint. On April 8, 2022, the court again granted Defendants’ motions to dismiss the operative complaint without prejudice. On May 27, 2022, Lead Plaintiff filed the third amended consolidated complaint. Defendants submitted motions to dismiss on July 18, 2022.  Briefing on the motions to dismiss will be completed in October 2022. Because this litigation is still at this early stage, we cannot reasonably estimate the likelihood of an unfavorable outcome or the magnitude of such an outcome, if any.

Shareholder Derivative

In 2018, five shareholder derivative actions were filed on behalf of the Company. The complaints in each of these actions contain allegations similar to the allegations set forth in the shareholder class action complaint pending in the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey and seek recovery against the Company and certain of the Company’s officers and directors and an investor for alleged claims including breaches of fiduciary duty, aiding and abetting breaches of fiduciary duty, unjust enrichment, waste of corporate assets, abuse of control, and mismanagement. Each of the complaints also seek unspecified monetary damages and corporate governance changes. All of the cases have been stayed pending resolution of the motion to dismiss in the securities class action pending in the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey, except for one matter (Jackson v. Riot Blockchain, Inc., et al., Case No. 604520/18, Supreme Court of the State of New York, County of Nassau) in which the court has adjourned the preliminary conference until February 7, 2023 in lieu of staying the action. Defendants do not anticipate any other activity on this case until the next preliminary conference.

Defendants intend to vigorously contest plaintiffs’ allegations in the shareholder derivative actions and plaintiffs’ right to bring the action in the name of Riot Blockchain. As this litigation is still at an early stage, we cannot reasonably estimate the likelihood of an unfavorable outcome or the magnitude of such an outcome, if any.